On Saturday 7th March 2020, the tenth Open Data Day took place with people around the world organising over 300 events to celebrate, promote and spread the use of open data. Thanks to generous support from key funders, the Open Knowledge Foundation was able to support the running of more than 60 of these events via our mini-grants scheme.
This blogpost is a report by Shadreck Ndinde from the Zimbabwe Library Association who received funding from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to highlight the importance of open data in promoting and supporting the girl child as well as raising the negative effects of gender-based violence against women and the role that libraries can play in providing current awareness to communities.
The Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) through one of its branches in Masvingo Province successfully hosted the international open data event at Chirichoga High School in Masvingo Province on the 7th of March 2020.
Parents, members of the community and peer groups met under the theme ‘Data for Equal Development’. Open Data Day is an annual event celebrated internationally on the 7th of March. Zimbabwe was among several countries in Africa selected by the Open Knowledge Foundation to conduct the workshop.
ZimLA’s event highlighted the importance of open data in promoting and supporting the girl child as well as raising the negative effects of gender-based violence against women. It displayed the role that libraries can play in providing current awareness to communities and how these communities can access information.
The main thrust of our event was to educate the girl child on the importance of open data. Data or information should be always available, free and accessible. This would benefit the girl child especially those in rural areas who are deprived their rights through early marriages, rape, forced marriages and domestic violence. The association plays a part in the global fight for gender equality. ZimLA seeks to promote awareness on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995). The event created an opportunity for the librarians do demonstrate the role played by libraries in delivering on the Sustainable Developmental Goal number 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ in line with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030.
Students presented a number of songs and poems that highlighted the importance of open data to the girl child. The event also created an opportunity for policy makers to discuss how libraries can provide free open data and deliver on the UN SDGs and national vision 2030 as well as the Africa vision 2063.
The headmaster Mr Masomere gave opening remarks at the event and called upon libraries to support development and awareness. The library was both a vital resource for students and served as a fact-driven organisation.
Representing the National Executive Council (NEC), Mr Praymore Tendai gave a presentation that highlighted that 32% of girls in Zimbabwe were married off before they attained 18 years of age. 4% were married before they turned 15 and approximately 1 in every 3 girls was married for the age of 18. The girl child was the most vulnerable member at household level. He also spoke about the role of open data in the development of Zimbabwe and how the lack of information was a main cause for the vice. The delegates also discussed how libraries may be more effective in dealing with the social inequality and child marriages.
Member of Parliament Masvingo West Constituency and Child President of the Chiefs Parliament of Zimbabwe, Ms Tsitsi Mutyaka thanked the national library association for bringing the event to rural communities like Nemwanwa where girls are normally left out. “We learned the importance of open data in libraries, we learnt on how we can use the open data in improving our lives and changing our lives for the better and stopping early child marriages, early pregnancies and gender based violence,” said Ms Mutyaka. She challenged the community authorities to create space for libraries and leisure for children.
The National Treasurer, Mr Poterai, later presented on open data and community libraries. He highlighted the role played by community libraries in providing affordable and free information to their patrons. Delegates got a chance to network and interact with the students at the end of the presentations. There were a number of discussions that saw the event closing past the set time of 3pm on the programme.