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Research Areas

The research under the Feminist Open Government Initiative will strive to understand how applying a gender lens to open government may enhance government responsiveness and public service delivery. It will build and deepen the evidence base around two distinct but related questions:

  • Research area #1 – How can innovative open government reforms and/or commitments advance policy agendas addressing the needs of women and girls’ through gender-focused or gender-mainstreamed approaches?

  • Research area #2 – How can considering gender more intentionally in the open government co-creation process lead to improved, and more effective, open government commitments and outcomes?

Research Area #1:

Open government reforms are an important avenue to drive improved policy outcomes that have potential to deliver more inclusive, sustainable development for all citizens. For example, open public procurement can help demystify the government procurement process, which can account for between 10-30 percent of a country’s GDP. When coupled with a dedicated earmark for women and underrepresented groups, open procurement can create substantial economic opportunities for women-owned businesses while enhancing national or local sustainable development. Public reporting on successful procurement bids also allows for accountability opportunities to ensure governments meet stated obligations around gender-specific procurement quotas.  

To better understand how open government reforms and/or commitments can better advance policy agendas addressing the needs of women and girls, research may explore questions such as:

  • Which traditionally gender-blind open government reforms could help advance key gender empowerment and gender equity priorities (at the country, regional, and/or global levels) if a more explicit gender lens were brought to those reform efforts?
  • Where do intersectionalities exist between leading open government reforms such as access to information, anti-corruption, open contracting, beneficial ownership, and transparency in the extractive industries and broader gender empowerment and gender equity reform efforts?  What practical steps could advocates in both open government and gender empowerment communities take to maximize potential synergies?
  • What factors inhibit the adoption of an explicit gender focus within current open government reform efforts, how could they be mitigated in the future?

Outside of gender-focused commitments, select OGP action plans have also included a gender-perspective within thematic commitments such as justice, budgeting, and employment. Which open government thematic areas are ripest for ambitious, high-impact gender-sensitive approaches? Research may posit and test ways in which gender-sensitive design and implementation could improve development outcomes for women and girls related to areas such as access to information reforms; the rollout of open data, open contracting, and beneficial ownership standards and systems; and the opening of land records and government spending data. Finally, research may consider if and how OGP can leverage other global movements such as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to increase the potential of national and sub-national gender reforms around transparency and accountability.

Research Area #2:

Collaboration between government, civil society and other stakeholders is at the heart of the Open Government Partnership process. The OGP Articles of Governance state that “OGP participants commit to developing their Action Plans through a multi-stakeholder process, with the active engagement of citizens and civil society. The collaboration of citizens, civil society, political and official champions and other stakeholders is essential to developing, securing and implementing lasting open government reforms.”  

The Feminist Open Government research will aim to understand the potential impact -- on both policies and outcomes -- of women’s meaningful participation and inclusion in these processes. It may answer questions such as: how have gender and women’s organizations effectively engaged in the co-creation or implementation of commitments? How did that engagement (where it exists) enhance commitments or outcomes overall, including improved transparency and accountability outcomes? Can open government reporting be made more accessible to women and gender groups for improved uptake, engagement, and accountability? What are notable areas of commonality between feminist groups and open government reformers; and what specific expertise and experience do these groups bring to open government reform needs?