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Data Values campaign: why we must act now to create a fair data future

Tichafara Chisaka, September 2022

Sightsavers has joined the Data Values campaign to explore the values that should inform data collection, analysis and use, and the value that data brings.

Data is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 and the commitment to leave no one behind. But too often, many people remain invisible and uncounted in data, while others are harmed by their inclusion in it.

Coordinated by the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data in collaboration with governments, civil society organisations, community activists and others, the campaign aims to transform how data is collected, managed, funded and used to empower people, instead of harming and excluding them.

Since early 2021, over 350 people from more than 60 countries have shaped the Data Values campaign. Together, we examined how to rebalance the unequal power dynamics and inequities that too often underpin data systems. The campaign compels us to take a more values-based, principled approach to our data practice – from tackling issues around agency, transparency and accountability through to how we use data. These are big, challenging issues and they require collective effort, partnerships and collaboration to address them.

For Sightsavers, this is a timely, critical campaign that aligns with our aims to promote equity and inclusion across our work in education, health, livelihoods and disability rights. We have been working to strengthen the collection of disability-inclusive data for several years across our country programmes and in our work with partners, to drive better decision-making through data and ensure more inclusive, equitable outcomes for people with disabilities, as well as other population groups such as women and girls, youth and older people.

An older man talks to a younger man, who is holding a tablet computer. They are sitting in a hospital waiting room.

What is the Data Values campaign?

As rapid shifts in technology and data reshape our organisations, societies and lives, the campaign calls for urgent action to create a fair data future for everyone.

Visit the official site

The Data Values campaign manifesto

The #DataValues manifesto calls on organisations, governments and people to act now and as one to create change through five key actions:

  1. Support people to shape how they are represented in data. People must have a say in data design and collection that affects their lives.
  2. Invest in public participation for accountability. People must be included in decisions related to data use and reuse.
  3. Democratise data skills for greater equality. Everyone everywhere must gain confidence to engage with and use data.
  4. Create cultures of transparency, data sharing and use. All leaders must invest in strengthening cultures of data use and reuse.
  5. Fund open and responsive data systems so that all people share the benefits of data. Governments and donors must dedicate more funding to data systems that support action and promote participation and inclusion.

Read the full Data Values campaign manifesto

Our commitments to the Data Values campaign

Sightsavers has committed to supporting the Data Values Advocates programme, which is critical to ensuring that the campaign creates the space and support for grassroots and community activists to be the leading voices on data values work. The programme will support those most affected by today’s unequal dynamics, so they are at the forefront of shaping tomorrow’s data systems. A call for applications is open until 2 October 2022.

We are currently updating our Inclusive Data Charter action plan and have committed to taking steps to look at how we can integrate the campaign manifesto into this. Alongside this work, we are looking at how we incorporate data values in our broader, ongoing conversations on data and inclusion with our partners.

Discussing our engagement in the Data Values campaign, Sightsavers’ director of policy and programme strategy Dominic Haslam said: “One of the strongest values for Sightsavers in our broader partnerships with the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and beyond is around inclusion and the participation of people in the collection, analysis and use of data. As well as bringing that value into the discussion and our experience of inclusive data, we are looking forward to learning from others about their views on data values and how that knowledge can enrich our own data work.

“We see the Data Values campaign as fitting very well with the Inclusive Data Charter that Sightsavers helped to launch back in 2018 alongside others, in that the Inclusive Data Charter was about broadening the support for and political commitment to data collection and use as a core part of the sustainable development process. This work on data values can help engage and build support from other stakeholder groups and to further broaden that commitment so that data is not just seen as the way to monitor or report on change, but its collection, analysis and use is a fundamental part of that societal change process.”

A call to action

Anyone committed to creating a fair data future is encouraged to join the campaign. Learn more about how you can take action and sign up to receive updates on engagement opportunities.

The Data Values campaign is a call for us all to actively think about the change we want to see and challenge ourselves to go further. We look forward to collaborating with partners in the data for development community and beyond to implement this important campaign. And we call on others to join the campaign and commit to the #DataValues manifesto’s actions so that we can collectively work towards using data to create fairer, more equitable outcomes that benefit everyone.

Author


Tichafara Chisaka is Sightsavers’ programme manager for the Inclusive Data Charter, and is based in the UK.

 

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