Gender equality for whom? A queer feminist analysis of the gender binary in data-informed programmes

Luísa Franco Machado

How does data impact the way we see gender? And how does the way we see gender impact data? The imposition of the gender binary embedded in policies and programmes leads to a further marginalisation and exclusion of those falling outside of the dominating gender norms, especially in non-Western contexts. The way forward is by rethinking gender.

Vulnerable groups have been historically underrepresented in social and demographic data, and consequently in the policies derived from this data. Despite an increasing demand from gender-aware policymakers for sex-disaggregated data to better inform policy, this augmented data collection does not necessarily translate to visibility and representativity in public policies. In fact, actors holding the data behind development technology are liable to become perpetrators of injustice depending on how this data is collected, treated, and employed.

Even if 'data justice' is a topic that has been fairly explored in recent critical data literature, it is a ‘gender-blind’ framework, which means that at the core of its principles, gender oppression is not explicitly mentioned. Instead, it is bundled with other kinds of discrimination. To better analyse gendered dynamics in the data governance mechanisms engrained in digital development processes, in this talk I will present a combination of the concept of data justice with queer feminist principles in a new conceptual framework used to assess policies and programmes. Specifically, I will investigate some of the overlooked impacts of data-driven development projects and policies on gender non-conforming people - a vast majority of them harmfully using "gender" and "women" as synonyms, even when supposedly tackling gender equality.

Queer and trans attendees will also have the opportunity to openly express their lived experiences with gendered policies (and politics).