Women Leadership in Mapping Riverside Communities in the Amazon Forest Using OSM

Room: Auditorium B

Saturday, 15:00
Duration: 20 minutes (plus Q&A)


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  • Ana Luísa Teixeira
  • Silvia Elena Ventorini
  • Natalia da Silveira Arruda
  • (Departamento de Geociências - Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei; Arizona State University; Youthmappers)

The Amazon Forest, its traditional peoples, and riverside communities represent an immense challenge for official cartography, due to scale and extension factors. This presentation aims to show the experiences of the Unificar Ações e Informações Geoespaciais (UAIGeo) chapter of the Brazilian YouthMappers in mapping riverside communities in the Amazon rainforest region, focusing on the city of Tefé and its islands. Due to its female leadership role and the goals of empowering young women in geospatial and technical skills, the presentation emphasizes the importance of engaging and encouraging female students to link mapping and female empowerment.

In Brazil, it is still an immense challenge to produce official cartography on the regional and local scale due to the extension of the territory, the number of municipalities (5,568 plus the Federal District), and the expensive cost of producing the mapping. Such factors are more significant in the Northern Region of the Country, where an important part of the Brazilian Amazon Forest and many traditional peoples and riverside communities are located. Many of the riverside communities do not have records in documents about their ancestral knowledge, cultures, territories, etc. Their knowledge and stories are transmitted orally and, despite the importance of this legitimate source of data, an important amount of information can be lost over time [1] The distances between riverside communities, in addition to the small geographic space the built infrastructure occupies, make them invisible in many official mapping. The riverside buildings are not visible in official mappings and have cultivated areas between 0,2 to 3 hectares. In this context, collaborative mapping through open data platforms is one cheaper possibility to mitigate the lack of maps in Brazilian municipalities. The OpenStreetMap (OSM) platform emerges as promising because it has wide territorial coverage of high-resolution images, which makes it possible to view the communities on the local cartographic scale. This presentation has the aim to show the experiences of the Brazilian YouthMappers’ chapter Unificar Ações e Informações Geoespaciais (UAIGeo), in partner with Centro de Estudos Superiores de Tefé-Universidade do Estado do Amazonas - CEST/UEA, within mapping riverside communities in the Amazon rainforest. In its initial phase, the project received support from the Everywhere She Maps program, due to its women leadership role and goals of empowering young women in geospatial and technical skills. Globally, on average 35% of female students entering the university choose fields in science, technology, engineering, and math - STEM [2]. The Global Gender Gap Report 2020 shows that Brazilian women represent just 18% of employees in technological jobs, a percentage below the global average [3]. Additionally, according to a study that has analyzed OSM users and the manifested gender, by 2019 female participation reached 13% [4]. For this reason, this presentation emphasizes how important it is to engage and incentivize women’s participation both from external and local communities. Gender relations are important components of key forest-related issues, such as climate change and the differences in opportunities facing women in these contexts. However, there is little literature on forest and gender in Latin America, particularly in the Amazon Forest [5] The chapter have been coordinating a series of mapping activities focused on the municipality of Tefé and verified that volunteers have mapped so far 11.082 buildings in the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Tasking Manager platform since last year. Together with local collaborators from CEST/UEA, chapter members validated some names of communities on one of Tefé’s islands. Chapter members carried out fieldwork in Tefé to know the local reality and some places that they had mapped. They also conducted studies in São Luís do Macari, a community that is located on an island in the middle of the Solimões River. Results of remote and fieldwork activities will be presented while at the same time emphasizing the importance of engaging and encouraging female students to link mapping and female empowerment.

  • [1] De Magalhães Lima, D.; Ferreira Alencar, E. (2001). A lembrança da História: memória social, ambiente e identidade na várzea do Médio Solimões. Lusotopie, v. 8, n. 1, p. 27-48, (Accessed April 18, 2022).
  • [2] UNESCO. (2019). Descifrar el código: La educación de las niñas y las mujeres en ciencias, tecnología, ingeniería y matemáticas (STEM)—UNESCO Digital Library. https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000366649 (Accessed April 18, 2022)
  • [3] GGGR. Global Gender Gap Report 2020. World Economic Forum, Geneva. 2020. Available in: https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2020.pdf (Accessed Feb. 23, 2022)
  • [4] Gardner, Z., Mooney, P., De Sabbata, S., & Dowthwaite, L. (2020). Quantifying gendered participation in OpenStreetMap: Responding to theories of female (under) representation in crowdsourced mapping. GeoJournal, 85(6), 1603–1620. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-019-10035-z
  • [5] Chmink, M., & Arteaga Gomez-Garcia, M. (2016). Embaixo do dossel: Gênero e florestas na Amazônia. https://doi.org/10.17528/cifor/006139