“It was fascinating to participate in the 3rd UN World Data Forum 2021 which was organised by the Swiss Federation from the 3rd to 6th October 2021 in Bern, Switzerland. The conference provided a space for different data communities of data producers and data users to discuss, challenge, and embrace the power of data, technology and other innovative tools to address the data demands for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
I was impressed by the discussions on the thematic areas of leaving no one behind and building trust in data and statistics. The sessions focused on generating and leveraging data and statistics for improved service delivery and access to microdata of small groups, implementing data principles and governance to new and existing data sources, while ensuring privacy and confidentiality of the users. There were examples from fieldwork of an Indian non-governmental organization (NGO) showing that directly asking women about their experiences of domestic abuse is not always the best way to collect reliable data about the violence, thus failing to accurately represent the magnitude of the problems.
In one session, we were discussing how to make data more inclusive, representative and participatory, a girl stood up in the main hall and said, “I cannot fully participate in this conference”. This was a surprise as sign language interpreters were provided throughout the conference. However, it turned out that the girl was deaf and blind and had to rely on her friends to draw sign languages on her hands. This was a reminder to us all that sometimes there are invisible barriers and vulnerabilities that you might not see and appreciate if addressed from a technical perspective.
Overall, attending this conference was an extremely positive experience and certainly provided food for thought for my own research area – AI for Identification and Support for Victims of Sexual Exploitation in Southeast Asia“.