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ZimLA Open Data Event

2020 Open Data Event
ZimLA National Advocacy Officer & the National Editor
The Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) through one of its branches in Masvingo Province successfully hosted the international Open Data event at Chirichoga Secondary School in Masvingo Province on the 7th of March 2020. Parents, members of the community and peer groups met under the theme, ‘Data for Equal Development’. The province’s erstwhile members took part in the event under the hashtag #opendata. The Zimbabwe Library Association Masvingo Branch was awarded an Open Data international event mini-grant, a first of its kind for Zimbabwe and the Association. Open data is an annual event celebrated internationally on the on the 7th of March. Zimbabwe was among several countries in Africa selected by the Open Knowledge Foundation to conduct the workshop. 
The Zimbabwe Library Association’s Open Data Day event highlighted the importance of open data in promoting and supporting the girl child as well as raising the negative effects of gender-based violence against women. It displayed the role that libraries can play in providing current awareness to communities and how these communities can access information on Open Knowledge Foundation Network blog. The support and funding for this year’s mini-grant came from Datopian, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Hivos, the Latin American Open Data Initiative (ILDA), Mapbox, Open Contracting Partnership and Resource Watch. Out of 246 mini-grant applications received worldwide, 67 received funding.
The main thrust of the Open Data Day Event was to educate the girl child on the importance of open of data. Data or information should be always available, free and accessible all the time. This would benefit the girl child especially those in rural areas who are deprived their rights through early marriages, rape, forced marriages and domestic violence. The association is a plays part in the global fight for gender equality. The library association seeks to promote awareness on the Beijing declaration and Platform for Action (1995). The event created an opportunity for the librarians do demonstrate the role played by libraries in delivering on the Sustainable Developmental Goal (SDG) number 5, ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ in Line with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030.
The ZimLA Masvingo Chairperson, Mrs T S Sagiya gave a brief background of the sponsoring organisation, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKF) and its mission. The guest of honour and Education Officer who attended the event representing the Masvingo Rural District Council CEO highlighted that he was very much happy to be associated with ZimLA and promised to work hand in hand with association towards coming up with a community library in Nemanwa, Masvingo.
Students presented a number of songs and poems that highlighted the importance of open data to the girl child. The presentations kept delegates asking for more and they called on delegates to take action on SDGs. The event also created an opportunity for policy makers to discuss how libraries can provide free open data and deliver on the UN SDGs and national vision 2030 as well as the Africa vision 2063. The event follows a similar celebration hosted by the Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) in 2019.
The Headmaster Mr Masomere gave opening remarks at the event and called upon libraries to support development and awareness. He was flanked by the Guest of Honour his vice, Mr Makwarimba and Child President of the Chiefs Parliament of Zimbabwe, Ms Tsitsi Mutyaka. The Library was both a vital resource for students and it served as a fact driven organisation. The President of the Library association concurred with the sentiment made by the Headmaster and informed delegates on the goal of ZimLA reviving a thriving membership that would deliver on the SDGs.
National Executive Council (NEC) and National Advocacy Mr Praymore Tendai gave a presentation that highlighted that 32% of girls in Zimbabwe were married off before they attained 18 years of age. 4% were married before they turned 15 and approximately 1 in every 3 girls was married for the age of 18. The girl child was the most vulnerable member at household level. He also spoke about the role of Open Data in the development of Zimbabwe and how the lack of information was a main cause for the vice. The delegates also discussed how libraries may be more effective in dealing with the social inequality and child marriages. 
The Vice Chair of ZimLA Masvingo Branch, Mr Mashokoh co-presented with ZimLA member, Ms T Kuzuwazuwa on IFLA SDGs and the importance of open data in promoting the girl child. Libraries are set actively tackle SDGs number;
1:  End poverty in all its forms everywhere,
4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all and number 
Member of Parliament Masvingo West Constituency and Child President of the Chiefs Parliament of Zimbabwe, Ms Tsitsi Mutyaka thanked the national Library association for bringing the event to rural communities like Nemwanwa where girls are normally left out. “We learnt the importance of open data in libraries - we learnt on how we can use open data in improving our lives and changing our lives for the better and stopping early child marriages, early pregnancies and gender based violence,” said Ms Mutyaka. She challenged the community authorities to create space for libraries and leisure for children.
ZimLA member, Linda Semu also presented on the Importance of open data in raising awareness on the negative effects of gender based violence against women. She spoke on the devastating effects gender based violence and how this would affect the nation’s development.  Linda Semu also informed delegates that the government had made strides in protecting the girl child with room for more players to take action secure the rights of the girl child. The nation of Zimbabwe has been calling for an end to gender based violence with legislature put in force to arrest the vice. 
Mr Mapfumo presented on the role played by libraries in providing current awareness on gender based violence.  He highlighted the many ways in which libraries worked with community and its’s leadership towards supporting the girl child and promoting awareness among policy makers. 
The National Treasurer, Mr Poterai later presented on Open Data and Community Libraries. He highlighted the role played by community libraries in providing affordable and free information to its patrons. Delegates got a chance to network and interact with the students at the end of the presentations. There were a number of discussions that saw the vent closing past the set time of 3pm on the programme.  
In a related development, the Southern African Country celebrated international women’s day on the 8th of March 2020 under the theme, ‘I am generational equality: Realizing women’s right’s through celebrating the achievements by women and also recognising the work that still needs to be done in order to achieve gender equality’. “The timing of the Open data event under the hashtag #EachforEqual comes at a perfect time - libraries play a vital role in the development of communities, they help members of the public tackle a number issues from gender equality, misinformation, gender inequality and poverty among many social evils,” said Mr Ndinde.  
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