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Last year, we launched a project to support Latin American organisations in reflecting and learning about how they use data and technology in their projects. As many organisations in the region are operating in environments where transparency, accountability and democracy are threatened, adopting a strategic approach to data and technology is an important part of creating sustainable solutions. This means that when working for social justice, civil society organisations need to be intentional about why they are applying certain approaches, how they design and implement them and which tools are most suitable for the context. Read the full series here.
As a part of this project, we are supporting Hiperderecho, a Peruvian non-profit defending rights and freedoms in digital spaces. Through research and advocacy, Hiperderecho educates and collaborates with students, activists and decision-makers on projects relating to how technology is redefining the way we exercise human rights. Thanks to their work on issues like online gender-based violence, data privacy and digital security, Hiperderecho has contributed to greater public understanding of the relationships between technology and rights.
Over the months we worked with Hiperderecho, we supported reflections about their projects, collectively identified opportunities to strengthen the team and discussed how to better extract learning from projects.
Making time to learn from the work
Through facilitated remote and in-person sessions, Hiperderecho’s team collectively outlined a panorama of the work they’ve been doing. Their projects are short-term and fast-paced, which can leave limited time to draw learnings from each activity. By reconstructing a timeline of past projects and reviewing the steps they took, Hiperderecho’s team assessed what went well, what could be improved, and how projects were connected to one another.
In our conversations, Hiperderecho also identified new practices that they could establish within their existing workflow, focusing on internal learning. For instance, by ensuring that each project includes opportunities for documentation and assessments from the start, the team has more space to learn from their activities.
Reconnecting with your purpose before designing new tech projects
Hiperderecho sees technology as a tool for exercising human rights. Many of their projects rely heavily on data and technology and much of what they do is developing systems and applications that help Peruvians practice their rights and monitor local authorities. In our conversations, it became clear that while there is a demand for Hiperderecho to use technology, the most important aspect of a project is its compatibility with their own purposes, values and the type of impact they want to generate.
We also talked about how assessing whether or not a potential new project may or may not fit their organizational objectives allows Hiperderecho to focus on the communities they want to reach. For instance, researching how potential users might interact with a new project before launching it is a way of understanding if the project matches their purposes as an organisation.
More conversations lead to stronger projects
Between lawyers, technologists, social researchers and journalists, Hiperderecho’s team holds diverse life experiences, professional expertises and unique perspectives on the organisation’s work. In conversations with Hiperderecho, we reflected on past and current technology projects, and each team member identified different successes and challenges related to each project. Through this, they were able to draw from everyone’s opinions and abilities and better understand the interconnectedness of each role and the different ways everyone contributes to projects.
Hiperderecho concluded that as more perspectives are included in the design of a project, fewer are the biases built into it. By ensuring collaboration between the tech team and other areas of the organisation, the wide set of skills and knowledge Hiperderecho holds can strengthen their work. By making the most of their multidisciplinary staff, they can ensure that whatever they create will be of greater benefit to the diverse communities with and for whom they work.
Our work with Hiperderecho was a reminder of the challenges faced by many civil society organisations in the region. Between carrying out fundraising activities, managing multiple projects with conflicting timelines and responding to urgent demands, there is often limited time and resources to think about internal processes and realign organisational purposes. Our conversations with Hiperderecho highlight how important it is to incorporate these reflections into the everyday workflow as a way of designing stronger projects and achieving desired impact.