OpenStreetMap

Of gender and mapping perspectives

Posted by maning on 9 September 2013 in English (English)

Catching up on the slides and tweets of the successful SOTM 2013 in Birmingham, I found this very interesting talk by Alyssa Wright (@alyssapwright). The slides discussed the general trend of a male-gender-biased-tagging of features in OSM (see slides #72 to #79).

This reminded me of a resource mapping and assessment we did for an Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. The research covers a protected area where several IPs communities (Batak and Tagbanua) are living. Part of the research is to conduct participatory mapping workshops with several IPs villages. We used a physical 3D model (very similar to this approach) to allow community members to identify key resources and other geographic features.

During the series of mapping workshops, I insisted that as an initial mapping activity, we divide the group into men and women. Both groups will have its own 3D model and they were instructed to identify important geographic features within their community. The final map will be an integration of both workshop output.

The map showed very interesting results.

The men group covered a larger extent of the area, common features they identified are:

  • names of all major rivers and streams;
  • location of hunting grounds including accurate position of where they hunted the largest wild pig, snake, or eel;
  • important trees for gathering resins and wild honey;
  • approximate boundary of forest cover types.

The women group on the other hand covered a smaller area mostly within the established settlements of the tribe, common features they identified were:

  • location of community structures such as schools, place of worship, community halls for gatherings;
  • sources of clean water (wells and springs);
  • a stream that regularly overflows limiting access to children going to school;
  • patches in the forest to gather medicinal plants and other wild vegetables;
  • patches of swidden farmlots.

The community mapping exercise provided a rich source of information for the resource mapping and assessment. Moreover, conducting a separate mapping workshop to each gender group in the community encouraged greater participation of women.

Both maps shows very different priorities and perspectives but not one more important than the other.

Location: Palawan, Republic of the Philippines

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