Data activism as a defense against gender-based violence

A Comparative Analysis of Participatory and Bottom-Up Practices Promoted by Four Global Success Stories


  • Fabio Virgilio La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
  • Maddalena Carbonari La Sapienza University of Rome, Italy



In the field of gender-based violence (GBV), digital platforms represent powerful tools for sharing experiences and promoting forms of activism; yet they still embody traditional forms of power and algorithmic logic that limit public perception of the phenomenon. Data activism (Milan e Gutiérrez 2015) seems to respond to such issues, as a set of socio-technical practices of grassroots activism and engagement promoting forms of social change for politically and socially marginalized groups. This work aims to analyze the participatory practices based on data related to GBV phenomena.  Four case studies – Safecity, the Índice nacional de violencia machista, Hollaback and HarassMap – were classified based on Eisenhut and colleagues’ categorization (2020) of the apps dealing with Violence Against Women. Furthermore, the analytical framework of data feminism (D’Ignazio e Klein 2020) was adopted to analyze the experiences of data activism in the light of its seven tenets. Our results show that such projects stand out as virtuous examples of proactive and participatory use of data against GBV, in keeping with the logic of data activism, in compliance with the principles of data feminism and with a good level of heterogeneity in terms of services offered.

Keywords: data activism, gender-based violence, grassroots practices, digital feminism, crowdsourcing geo-data.