An Update on Our Work to Visualize Gender Equality

About Viz5
Visualize Gender Equality – or “Viz5” – is an effort to help realize UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 
 
The goal of Viz5 is to create a space where data advocacy and insights meet impact. This work seeks to ignite a data advocacy effort with the power to not only raise awareness of extreme gender inequality, but also catalyze global action to end it.
 
Viz5 is led by Operation Fistula, with #MakeoverMonday and Tableau Foundation operating as critical partners. The program works by mobilizing the power and talent of the #MakeoverMonday and Tableau communities, to visualize 12 different data sets, over 12 months. 
 
The data sets that are shared as part of Viz5 will feature 12 different themes, curated to present the diverse aspects and themes of gender inequality. Collectively, these data sets and visualizations will begin to tell the story of where gender inequality is at its most extreme

The Viz5 project shares data from myriad sources. Some of the datasets are taken from large public data – from resources like DHS and MICs – while other datasets come from local grassroots partner organizations, and will enable deep sub-national analysis to strengthen advocacy efforts and spur action.     
Viz5 so far…
Viz5 launched on International Women’s Day 2020 and we have been blown away by the response that we’ve seen so far. Over the last four months, there has been vast global engagement in the Viz5 work. Within the first month of Viz5’s launch we had 685 participants, from 52 countries, signed up to the community!
 
Each month that the project goes on, we receive an influx of different data visualizations from this global network, all working to visualize the data for maximal impact. It’s an incredible thing to witness, and our distinct pleasure to review the submissions. 
 
For each data theme, and each month of the project, Operation Fistula selects what we have termed a ‘SuperViz’, from all the visualizations submitted by the community. This is Operation Fistula’s way of recognizing and honoring the visualization that we feel tell the most impactful and powerful story using the data that was shared
 
As part of our work to visualize gender equality, we want to make sure that we highlight our SuperVizzes! This is our way of congratulating and thanking those who created them, and also raising awareness and driving efforts forward in the work to achieve SDG 5. 
 
Check out the first four Viz5 themes, and our first set of selected SuperVizzes, below:
Theme #1 – Violence Against Women and Girls
The Viz5 launch theme looked at data that highlights attitudes towards Violence against Women and Girls. 
 
The UN describes violence against women and girls (VAWG) as: “one of the most widespread, persistent, and devastating human rights violations in our world today. It remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma, and shame surrounding it.”
 
It can manifest itself in physical, sexual, and psychological forms, and can include sexual violence and harassment, child marriage, and female genital mutilation. Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality and peace, as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights. The promise of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – to leave no one behind – cannot be achieved without putting an end to violence against women and girls.
 
The data for this theme was taken from a survey by the DHS program, of men and women in African, Asian, and South American countries. The survey explores the attitudes and perceived justifications given for committing acts of violence against women. The data also explores different sociodemographic groups that the respondents belong to, including: Education Level, Marital status, Employment, and Age group.
 

The SuperViz for this theme was awarded to Agata Ketterick, whose data visualization effectively illustrated one of the key messages in the data – that education has a huge impact on changing attitudes towards violence against women. Agata’s viz also showed the difference in attitudes between male and female respondents – shockingly female respondents across almost all countries and demographic groupings were more likely to feel that violence against women could be justified. 

The viz very effectively communicated that in the countries where these views are widespread, it is critical that public awareness campaigns, and access to education for women and girls, are prioritized to share that violence against women and girls is never acceptable or justifiable.
Theme #2 – Unpaid Work
The COVID-19 pandemic made it immediately clear to the Viz5 team that the second data set in our work to visualize gender equality should highlight the theme of unpaid work. 
 
As countries around the world went into lockdown, it became impossible to ignore the extraordinary contribution that unpaid work makes to every day life and the global economy. With schools closed, elderly quarantined, jobs transformed into fully remote home-based activities, and many jobs lost – leaving vast numbers of people without any kind of economic or social safety-net – we knew we needed to highlight the profound inequities that exist in the global workforce economy. 
 
The UN defines unpaid work as: “activities including food preparation, dishwashing, cleaning and upkeep of the dwelling, laundry, ironing, gardening, caring for pets, shopping, installation, servicing and repair of personal and household goods, childcare, and care of the sick, elderly, or disabled household and family members, among others.” 
 
On average, women spend approximately three times more hours per day doing unpaid domestic work and care-giving than men. This means that women have significantly less time to spend pursuing paid work, educational opportunities, or their own leisure and self-care. All of this reinforces the existing gender-based socioeconomic disadvantages and inequities that exist globally. It also contributes to the perpetuation of systemic inequality by undermining the rights of those that bear the brunt of unpaid care work to live healthy, full, and well-balanced lives.
 

The Viz5 data for this theme was taken from the United Nations Statistics Division, and is based on time use surveys conducted between 1966 – 2015, across 85 countries worldwide. Time-use statistics gathered from these surveys seek to quantify summaries of how individual people “spend” and allocate their time, and provide an insight into the division of labor between men and women. This data set was particularly challenging, as each of the national surveys were produced by different organizations and UN country offices. 

The SuperViz for Viz5’s second dataset was awarded to to Evelina Judeikytė. Their simple but profoundly effective visualization clearly illustrates the gender inequality that exists in paid versus unpaid work. 

Theme #3 – Obstetric fistula
The theme for our third Viz5 data set was obstetric fistula, to coincide with our preparations for International Day to End Obstetric Fistula on May 23rd. 
 
Obstetric fistula is a childbirth injury that happens when a woman can’t access the medical help she needs while in labor. After losing her baby to stillbirth, the woman is left with a stigmatizing injury that devastates her life. 
 
Operation Fistula’s work to end fistula for every woman, everywhere, is what led us to the idea for Viz5. Obstetric fistula only happens in places where systems fail women and girls. Its existence is an indicator of systemic gender inequality. For example, in places where fistula persists, there is often also extreme gender-based violence and child abuse in the form of child marriage and child pregnancy. There is also often little to no access to education for women and girls and poor maternal health services, all factors which contribute to the likelihood of getting a fistula.
 
For this theme, Operation Fistula shared a subset of anonymized patient data provided by our partner surgeons in Madagascar between February 2018 and February 2020. It is important to note that patients, who own their data, have consented to Operation Fistula and partners using an anonymized version of the data in our efforts to better understand and prevent fistula. A total of 468 anonymized patient records were included. Each patient included in this data has her own story, one which cannot be reduced to a set of numbers and fields. However, by sharing this data set, we hoped to provide some insight into the lives of these women; both the suffering they have endured, and the relief and hope provided by fistula surgery. 
 

We were so impressed by everyone’s visualizations, but were particularly struck by the viz produced by David Borczuk. David’s viz beautifully captured the human story behind the data – the fact that each ‘record’ in the data is a women with her own unique story of living with fistula. David’s visualization also captured the hope that exists for these women, and the years of healthy life that are gained as a result of fistula surgery. 

Theme #4 – Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The latest Viz5 campaign partnered with  Hope for Girls & Women, Crowd2Map, and the Tanzania Development Trust (TDT) to highlight their critically important work in the fight against FGM.
 
The data shared via Viz5 came from Hope for Girls & Women – an NGO in Tanzania working to end FGM. Hope for Girls & Women was founded by the Tanzanian activist Rhobi Samwelly in 2017. Rhobi’s personal experience of being forced to undergo female genital mutilation as a child inspired her lifelong commitment to fight for the rights of girls and women. Their two safe houses in the Butiama and Serengeti Districts of the Mara Region of Tanzania, provide shelter and support those fleeing FGM, child marriage, and other forms of gender based violence.
 
Their team of dedicated staff offer safe house residents vocational training, such as classes that teach tailoring and computer skills. Through this training they support women’s entrepreneurship and economic empowerment. Women use their new skills to generate much needed income, becoming valued providers for their families, while also increasing their independence, and making them less vulnerable to forced marriage and FGM. The data Viz5 shared from Hope for Girls & Women is based on the admissions of girls to their safe houses since 2017.
 
Often, Rhobi will receive a phone call from activists in a village saying that a girl is at high risk of FGM,  or even being prepared for their “cutting ceremony.” Once she receives that call, Rhobi alerts the Police Gender Desk and Social Welfare, who attempt to rescue the girl and bring her to the safe house. Once the girl is admitted, data is collected and recorded by the safe house. This includes basic information such as age at admittance, the district and region that they are from, as well as certain socio-demographic information, including their religion, and whether they have ever attended school. They also collect information about the circumstances surrounding the admission to the safe house; the type of case, who delivered them to the safe house, their health status, and any immediate needs upon arrival. 
 
The ‘type of case’ field in the data refers to the reason for the girl being admitted to the safe house. Where the type of case is described as child marriage, rape, or violence, this means the girl has tragically already experienced this, and is being admitted to the safe house for protection and support. Where the type of case is described as FGM, this means that either the girl is at risk of imminently undergoing FGM, and has been admitted for protection, or she has already undergone FGM, and is in need of sanctuary and support. 
 
Often, girls arrive at the safe house only with the clothes on their backs, and so need to be provided with clothing and shoes, in addition to individual medical care and counseling. Girls admitted to the safe house are also assessed by a social welfare officer, who will recommend a course of action, including the provision of short-term or long-term protection, facilitated reconciliation with her parents, or the prosecution of the perpetrators. 
 
Many girls at the safe house may only need to stay for the short-term – often for the length of the cutting season. During this season there is typically a huge surge in cases of FGM. The season usually last for around 6 weeks, and coincides with the long school holidays in the month of December. 
 
For those girls seeking refuge for the duration of the cutting season, there follows a period of time during which Hope for Girls & Women supports reconciliation with their families. This happens with facilitation and support from safe house staff, and involves educating families about the dangers of FGM, the legal consequences, and their daughter’s rights to continue education. Following this, most families go on to sign an affidavit stating that they will not cut their daughter. After this, their daughters will return home, leaving the safe house. Sometimes, however, girls are at particularly high-risk, and need longer-term protection at the safe house. During their longer stay at the safe house they either attend school or learn a trade, and are supported and nurtured by safe house staff. 
 
In addition to the provision of these holistic support and care services to the girls and women in their care, Hope for Girls & Women actively participates in community outreach events to open up dialogue within local FGM practicing communities, and raise awareness of the harm caused by FGM and other forms of gender based violence.
 
Hope for Girls & Women is utterly dedicated to the fight to end FGM, and Viz5 stands with them – together, we can raise awareness, and drive action to end this human rights abuse, and create a more equal world for girls and women everywhere. 
 
“Thanks to the Viz5 and MakeoverMonday communities, we now have a set of high-quality data visualizations for our work. The data we’re collecting enables us to identify the areas where further support is necessary, and helps us more effectively target our interventions and efforts in the fight against FGM.”  – Rhobi Samwelly, Founder, Hope for Girls & Women
 
Our fourth SuperViz is awarded to Liam Spencer! Their viz clearly highlights key data points, and is beautifully visually aligned with the branding from this month’s partner organization. Liam’s viz also includes a call to action at the end, which helps to capture the mission of Hope for Girls & Women, making this month’s SuperViz a highly effective advocacy tool for their work.
 
The standard of visualizations this month was exceptional, and we would like to give a special mention to Priya Padham’s viz, which is beautifully designed and powerfully explores and presents the data.
 
Well done to everyone who took part!

 
Sign up to join our community at viz5.org to keep in touch with the latest Viz5 news! 
 
Keep watch for updates on the project by following @OpFistula, @TriMyData, @sethcochran, and #Viz5 on Twitter.

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