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The WeViz Project -FGM/ C

Hi everyone! Welcome to the WeViz Project.

This is a 2017 initiative set by me and David to push each other skills, learn new things and see how different or alike our approach to the same dataset really is.

The plan is to find a dataset that is interesting or meaningful to us and learn from it, improving our skills from the starting point (research, data preparation) to the ‘finalised visualisation’ (storytelling/ dashboard design).

Along the way, we will be sharing our experiences, difficulties, new skills learned and how or why we approached the data the way we did.

Our intention is to improve, to push our limits, to do something about the causes we care about but above all have fun.

For our first project, we decided to work with data about FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and contribute towards the ‘International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation’ on February the 6th.  Although not much ‘data prep’ skills were needed, we felt that this was a great way to start our project, with an important cause and raising awareness.

The first ‘bump’ on our road was the data itself, the data collection difficulties that many organisations such as WHO (World Health Organisation), Unicef (The United Nations Children’s Fund) and many charities have to work with on a daily basis.

Given the issue (female mutilation), the different cultural believes and countries where this is performed, the exact number of the girls and women worldwide who have undergone FGM/C (female genital mutilation/ cutting) remains unknown; however, we know that at least 200 million girls and women have been cut in 30 countries with representative data on prevalence.

In some countries, such as “Colombia the available evidence comes from (sometimes outdated) small-scale studies or anecdotal accounts, and there are no representative data yet on prevalence. The practice is also found in pockets of Europe and in Australia and North America which, for the last several decades, have been destinations for migrants from countries where the practice still occurs” (Unicef, 2016).

This means, that the worldwide practice of FMG/C can be ‘massively’ underestimated, highlighting the need for awareness and action against this abuse towards one of the women/children basic human rights.

Once we gathered the data, was now time to start my analysis and data visualisation.

The analysis itself was based on the prevalence of FGM on the 30 countries with data, majority of which located in Africa. There was data about the FGM in rural environment vs urban and in populations with different wealth indices.

A very straight forward analysis, where I could start displaying the countries with higher prevalence, compare rural vs urban and explain the insights based on the extra information acquired when trying to ‘understand’ why was FGM performed.

Given the brutality of the practice, I felt myself leaning towards a story promoting the ‘shock factor’. After all, I could not avoid feeling infuriated by the fact that children and women are losing their lives because of something that is raw brutality and highly preventable.  My first thought was: ‘this is a red/grey/black dashboard’ with a shocking image and strong words. But then as I read more about the subject and become aware that in many countries the new generations (male and female) are opposing to this practice, my rationale changed and I then avoided falling on what I consider a big No No ‘letting your feelings/views drive your analysis’.

It was then that my health background kicked in: ‘be empathic, let your passion drive your work but above all be rational and impartial, tell the facts as they are.’

By remembering the above, I then changed the way I wanted to tell my story and my rationale was:

  1. Something informative, but not brutally graphic. This way people would not be ‘pushed away’ from the visualisation

  2. Use of colour and design that points towards femininity, transmits the delicacy of a life

  3. Have something about the male view on the matter

  4. End with a call to action

I chose a vertical layout to tell my story where on the left I could add all the information needed to aid the charts on the right.

By doing so, I could guide the user through the visualisation using colour, lines as separators and the alignment of the charts/ labels as visual markers.

Overall it was a very interesting dataset to work with and an eye opener for the problem that Female mutilation is.

Have a look at my contribution to raise awareness and #endFGM by clicking on the image for the interactive view.


Thank you for reading and stay tuned…


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