From the Millenium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, theinternational community has long recognized that there are entire communities being left behind. Women have historically been among these communities, and while we boast decades of initiatives to bridge the gender equality gap, doing so remains alarmingly out of reach.
There is an undeniable gap, which the rapid development and scale-up of technology has but accentuated. The fact of the matter is that we do not know whether the technology being invented is serving the needs of those who have historically been most excluded from the conversation and the creation of tools. The first step to fill this gap is, quite simply, to ask women.
w@tt is designing a mixed-methods methodology through which we will identify the needs of women and girls, with a focus in the first stage on challenges and solutions identified by women community leaders and youth leaders living in informal urban settlements. The questions will be gathered in an original, pre-vetted survey which loosely groups questions around a majority of the SDGs.
The study will go beyond identifying women community leader solutions, to also seek the views of three other stakeholder groups on what they perceive to be the needs of women living within informal urban settlements. We will engage government officials, technologists, and international development partners, to ask them what they believe women need.
While the views of diverse stakeholders have been documented in various ways throughout the years, what has not been done is to bring these views together. The value in doing so is that we will, for the first time, have the ability to identify potential gaps and mismatches in what is affirmed as women’s needs by the women themselves with the beliefs and actions of outside experts seeking to serve those needs. It follows that, if there is a mismatch between reality and perception, we hold little chance of developing technologies that meet, solve, and eradicate needs and are actually useful in bringing us closer to agency and equality.
The study will be undertaken across four locations in four different regions: Asia Pacific, Latin America, West Africa, and Middle East Northern Africa. The precise locations will be determined with partners. Standardized and previously vetted questionnaires will be administered to the interviewees across all sites, allowing for comparison of findings.
The study conceptualization, design and implementation will have partnerships and co-creation at its heart, following the principles of design justice. Central to this is the recognition that women are, by virtue of their experience, inherently experts. They know their realities and needs best.
To ensure deeply local and community-responsive partnerships, in each of the sites Women@TheTable will partner with a local organization. These organizations will have either relevant technological know-how and/or connections to women in lower-income urban settlements, ensuring that the study contributes towards sustainable, community-led and -controlled outcomes.
We seek to work in full collaboration and with flexibility. W@tt welcomes partners’ inputs in all stages of the study, while recognizing that each partner can choose how much they want to and are able to engage.
The table below represents a non-exhaustive overview of roles and responsibilities, to be discussed with each partner. Text in blue indicates core responsibilities of partners that are of the essence to the successful undertaking of the study.