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News — 28 February, 2017

WHY WOMEN IN MAPPING MATTERS - Mapping for women and girls

The 2017 International Women’s Day celebrations will be held under the theme "Be Bold for Change". It is against this background that every woman has the right to a healthy lifestyle, safe sex, a safe pregnancy, a safe birth and a safe interruption of pregnancy if they choose.


Women all over Africa and other parts of the world often lack the information about facilities that are of help around them. Many travel miles to get services such as VCT, cancer screening, Gender Based violence, family planning, maternity services and those that can't travel miles lose their lives or their babies. Many of these services are actually near them but are not known to them because existing maps and information sources do not have the information.


Access to online resources for searching and locating facilities is rare in many place, so printed maps with information important to women and girls on them are critical to their health and wellbeing.


For women in their reproductive years (World Health Organization defines as 15-44 years old), HIV/AIDS is noted to be the leading cause of death worldwide, with unsafe sex being the main risk factor in developing countries. Maternal deaths were the second biggest killer of women in that age range. The lack of easy to use information on contraceptive availability has limited women’s ability to delay or stop childbearing.


Biological factors, lack of access to health services, economic vulnerability and unequal power in sexual relations expose women, particularly young women, to HIV infection. Tuberculosis, which is often linked to HIV infection, was among the five leading causes of death in low income countries, among women aged 15-59 years old.


However, for most women access to health services and facilities is a challenge due to unavailability of information on the location and provision of such services.


More women need to get involved in OpenStreetMap (OSM) so that services of importance to women and girls are better mapped. Please join me in my commitment for the next 12 months to support and train more women in this cause and develop good processes to extract and distribute map data from OSM focused on women's issues to maximize the impact of our #BeBoldForChange pledge.


Let’s stand together and offer training and support to women to get involved in mapping and impact their community using maps relevant to them and the issues they struggle with daily. This month and for the next year, let the whole world speak up for women and girls using maps.

I thus urge everyone from all over the world to get involved in mapping in support of women and girls and also get involved in making the map data more accessible to those most in need of the information. More maps have to be printed and be given to local officers and women groups in local communities with information about services that help them.


You can read more and see examples of tagging that support women and girls here:

Compiled by Trudy and Blake


[Update: Rebecca Firth gives a run-down of many mapping initiatives for international womens day projects]