Mapper of the Month: Geochicas

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Who are you?

We are a Latin American community with members in 11 different countries of the region. In #Geochicas we have different profiles, we have backgrounds in programming, social sciences, geography, design, humanities. Many of us are students, researchers, and workers in different companies, state institutions, organizations, and universities in our countries.The name #Geochicas is born as part of the need to encompass our work and desire to articulate mapping with the gender approach in the community.

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When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap?

We discovered OpenStreetMap at different times and in different contexts, some of us know it for almost 10 years now. For many of us, it was a discovery when we needed to find alternative and free tools and information that could help us in our different jobs. #Geochicas use OSM, are for academic use in many different ways, e.g. for academic use, research work, yet others use it in proposals for the visualization of different issues with civil organizations, such as Ciudata and others linked as Repubikla, or #CallesVioletas, collaborating with activist networks. The humanitarian dimension of OSM is another theme that brought together the interest of several people in the group.

What do you map?

We focus on mapping different points of interest that are directly related to the support and development of women in our countries, localities, neighbourhoods. We are beginning to strongly encourage people to contribute mapping of equipment and elements that improve the living conditions of women, through various technology projects, public data import, and participatory mapping. We also support and carry out initiatives that have a multidisciplinary approach to mapping, such as the Latin American Regional Mass Mapathon](, on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of OpenStreetMap, from which it was proposed to map vulnerable informal settlements, considering that women are often found at greater risk in these spaces, and suffer in general of greater vulnerability.




Where do you map? Locally, HOT?

We map locally through national projects, and also remotely through international initiatives as well as HOT and MissingMaps. An example is the mapping project from Crowd2Map to improve the map before the “female genital cutting season in Tanzania” and thus help different organisations to rescue at-risk girls.

What is your biggest achievement as mapper?

Our greatest achievement was to constitute ourselves as a multidisciplinary and transnational collective of women mappers. In the same way we have articulated different activities as formative spaces in different countries like Mexico, Paraguay, Nicaragua; and other projects that support visibilization of the need to discuss the gender gap in the community. We are constantly generating methods to produce knowledge about gender participation in the OpenStreetmap community.This year we were nominated and won the Latin American category of the OSMAwards and we had the presence of one of our members in SOTM International in Japan, where she made a presentation about the group and our work.


Why do you map? What motivates you?

We are motivated by the need to generate open information that is also inclusive of women, in terms of which the mapped information is one of the bases for the development of communities and territories and also a more and more omnipresent auxiliary in everyday life. The information is however biased by the wide gender gap that exists between OSM collaborators. This is not only represented on the map from the lack of POIs related to women, but also on how a reality is perceived and a world almost completely masculinized. This can be applied to any other map, but we believe that the community dimension of OpenStreetMap just gives it a great comparative advantage: this map can rectify this perspective and properly represent women.

What is the most difficult part of mapping?

One of the great difficulties in mapping with a gender approach is the lack of participation of more women in the community. According to statistics, women make up just under 5% of the entire OSM community, and ensuring that our interests are reflected in the agenda and discussions of the community, as well as having labels that account for the needs of women on the map, is one of the great challenges

What are your mapping plans for the near future?

First we want to know more about the needs in terms of points of interest for the women who need to be mapped, as well as work on the labels that can support to improve the information that is reflected in the map. We continue to make photomapping initiatives with tools such as Mapillary and OpenStreetCam, social mapping on memory, space perception, accessibility, and OSM application development.We also want to influence our OpenStreetMap communities so that they are more aware of the need to develop these axes with women.

Do you have contact with other mappers?

Geochicas emerged from and stays in permanent contact with OpenStreetMap LATAM. We have different international, regional and national OSM networks with which we share our projects, and also with communities that are not necessarily OpenStreetMap, but which have mapping components in their daily work.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself? How?

We plan to use OSM to analyse (in the near future) women’s participation in the whole community, in terms of creating open data directly related to women and vulnerable areas. We also use OSM in our different jobs, academic projects and in our daily lives. We also promote technological projects with uses of OSM to improve the quality of life for women.

Can you tell us a bit more about Geochicas?

Geochicas was born as an initiative of joint collaboration among Latin American women, based on an intense discussion of this community about the worrying gender gap in SOTM Latam 2016, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We started with 5 women to carry an open discussion panel on this situation within this event and form a permanent network of women from OpenStreetMap LATAM, aiming to have a greater presence and participation in these key events, increase our leadership, generate a permanent debate, and also generate projects with the map, which benefits women. We have carried out training activities on mapping with a gender perspective, also in forums for reflection on the gender imbalance and its implications in the areas of activism, data and technologies, in feminist spaces, an example of which was the Hackerfeminist Workshop in Asunción, Paraguay, with the Peatonal League in Mexico City, and in different countries nationally, as well as regional Latin American projects that we articulate with the different communities and national allies

Within Geochicas, there are collaborators who publish and translate the OSM Weekly, we want to have a continuous effort of translation and improvement of labels and description for subjects related to women. We also support different training spaces in which we see the importance of working with OSM, and within OSM on the importance of promoting balanced representation and leadership of genres. We strive to produce knowledge and data on the participation of the different genres in the community, we seek funding to support greater participation of women, and, through network strengthening, we want to make more visible the work done by them in the universe of OpenStreetMap.

To conclude, is there anything else you want to mention?

From Geochicas we have promoted the use of the hashtag #OSMintegra, #OSMintegrates and #Geochicas on Twitter, to have discussions, debates, permanent ideas about the needs, perceptions and comments on gender of the community. We also have a website where you can find our projects, our diary publications in OSM, and we invite the women who want to join our work network through our communication channel in Telegram.

We invite all the people who collaborate in OpenStreetMap to help us complete this survey, about perceptions and representations of gender in the community. We seek to gather information to help us understand more fully the gender gap in OSM.