Essay by Kate Richards and Martina Barbero: “What the majority of participatory data governance approaches have in common is strong collaboration between public authorities and civil society organizations and representatives of communities that have been historically marginalized and excluded or who are at risk of being marginalized. This leads to better data and evidence for policy-making. For instance, a partnership between the Canadian government and First Nations communities led Statistics Canada to better understand the factors that exacerbate exclusion and capture the lived experiences of these communities.
These practices are pivotal for increasing inclusion and accountability in data beyond the data collection stage. In fact, while inclusion at the data collection phase remains extremely important, participatory data governance approaches can be adopted at any stage of the data lifecycle.
- Before data collection starts: Building relationships with communities at risk of being marginalized helps clarify “what to count” and how to embed the needs and aspirations of vulnerable populations in new data collection approaches. The National Department of Statistics in Colombia’s (DANE) multi-year work with Indigenous communities enabled the statistical office to change their population survey approach, leading to more inclusive data policies.
- After data is collected: Collaborating with civil society organizations enables public authorities to assess how and through which channels data should be shared with target communities. When the government of Buenos Aires wanted to provide information to increase access to sexual and reproductive health services, it worked with civil society to gather feedback and develop a platform that would be useful and accessible to the target population.
- At the stage of data use: Participatory approaches for data inclusion also support greater data use, both by public authorities and by external stakeholders. In Medellin, Colombia, the availability of more granular and more inclusive data on teen pregnancy enabled the government to develop better prevention policies and establish personalized services for girls at risk, resulting in a reduction of teen pregnancies by 30%. In Rosario, Argentina, the government’s partnership with associations representing persons with disabilities led to the development of much more accessible and inclusive public portals, which in turn resulted in better access to services for all citizens…(More)”.