WiGISKe at SatRDay

SatRDay in Johannesburg is a conference curated by the R community and forward-thinking companies in South Africa. This conference offers the opportunity to learn and network with top researchers, data scientists and developers working with R from South Africa and across the world.

WiGISKe has a strong presence on Twitter and it has proved a great tool for our advocacy and reporting work. Many of our collaborations have begun on this platform and the invite to participate in the SatRDay conference came in a similar manner.

Caroline Otiwa, our Advocacy and Operations Lead represented WiGIS at the SatRDay conference’s fourth edition that took place on 7th March 2020 in Johannesburg.

The event brought together a diverse range of speakers utilizing R in various industries and in remarkably interesting ways. The presentations ranged from using R to study resurrection in plants, predicting trends in chocolate (aptly referenced Willy Wonka) and to currently pressing scenarios such as understanding the Coronavirus outbreak. A varied sampling of the different ways R is coming to use across the continent.  

Keynote address at SatRDay Conference

Keynote Speaker Colin Fay and Heather Turner also brought light emerging trends in the R community and important considerations for the future. Colin Fay’s address titled ‘Prod is not a four-letter word” took on the existing misconceptions and attitudes in using R for engineering production. He made the case for a need to alter perspectives and mindsets when building tools with R for production.

Heather Turner cast light on the gains made towards inclusion and diversity within the R community while also exploring the challenges and gaps that still exist. This is particularly regarding representation of people with disabilities, underserved regions as well as the technical side of the R project. The talk sparked thought on ways in which the R community can further improve in this area.

Carole presenting at SatRDay

Carole’s presentation highlighted the work of WiGISKe and showcased the application of R in championing for Gender Equity. The work done   is a follow through of the campaign conducted in 2019 for #16DaysofActivism in which WiGISKe created a dashboard to visualize the problem of Gender Based Violence in Kenya. The presentation’s focus was to engage the audience on GBV against women in Kenya while looking at how impactful the justice system in Kenya is and the analysis was done in R. 

According to UN Women, Africa is facing challenges in achieving SDG 5 which is to “end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere” largely due to issues of culture, traditions and beliefs. There are however legal frameworks that have been put in place to ensure that all countries achieve gender equality. In recognition of this reality, WiGISKe further undertook a study using R packages to conduct a Non-Exceedance Probability (NEP) analysis that will show which countries have reached the threshold and measure progress towards the SDG 5. The results of this work will be visualized and be made public to increase visibility for the work and provide access to policy decision makers   and Gender Activists. 

The presentation sparked a conversation on the rise of GBV cases in Kenya and in SA as well. Discussions afterward looked into how best data analytics can be used to provide solutions and gain insights for future work in championing gender equality.

The conference provided a great opportunity to meet with other leaders in the R community and fostered exciting collaborations for the future. 

Armed with knowledge of new tools such as the Shiny Web App and skills in creating packages in R, there is a lot to share among the WiGISKe community going forward.

For more information about Carole’s presentation at the SatRDay conference,watch this video.

Be sure to check out other presentations from the conference through their Youtube Channel.

Author ~ Angela Moturi