A database on abused women
The Legal Alternatives for Women Center, Inc. (LAW Inc.) now has a database on cases of abuse against women in the province of Cebu.
The long-sought dream of having a database was realized through Ms. Frances Finch , Australian Volunteer and Information Management Officer from the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program, funded by Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID). She worked with LAW Inc. from April to August 2013.
Information management is the collection of information for the purposes of storage, distribution, access and analysis. A database is a tool for managing your information, which involves more than having a place to store data. Databases are a convenient way to organize, store and retrieve information by using tables, like in Microsoft Excel. Like in Excel, the database tables are made up of rows and columns. They display single records in a form, cross reference between tables, use multiple criteria to search for obtained and present data, we can export data into a report.
Ms. Finch helped LAW Inc. in assessing and reforming the information management system which included ways of storing records of client profiles (“information sheet” is filled out initially by the client upon accessing the service and updated as the case goes on.) This is for statistical analysis of clients and services accessed (2008 – the present); basic client information (all “logged” complaints recorded by month in excel spreadsheets.) This is for the purpose of reporting (2008-present); cases filed in court (those complaints following the path of being filed in court are also recorded separately (2008-present); SPSS client profiles (data from the “information sheet” is recorded in an SPSS program and word data is recorded with a number value (1998-2010); and legal information (information relating to filed cases, including appointments and case notes are stored electronically on the server and manually in files. LAW Inc. staff were concerned about the time-consuming process of accessing manually filed information, the danger of using only manual filing, the safety and security of electronic data, the basic need of staff members to be computer literate, and limited resources. Other issues identified were the inconsistent storage of data (the information and way the data is stored differs from year to year), and the lack of information management policy, surrounding use, access and storage of information.
What was involved in the data base? First there was the creation and setting up of a database design, then the migration of data from other sources, creation of training modules for LAW Inc. staff in using and amending the new database, and drafting of Information Management policy to outline safety and security measures for database, as well as maintenance and sustainability. This holds much for the future of LAW Inc. Information required in daily activity is now extremely accessible including telephone numbers, case numbers, case venue, case status, and perpetrator information. There are enhanced capabilities in reporting. With the assistance of the database, reports can be produced in a number of minutes. There are also enhanced capabilities in reporting the number of clients by year and the location of the cases. Most important are the enhanced capabilities in reporting filed cases. The database revealed that there have been 365 filed cases in the history of LAW Inc. – 129 are archived. This means that there has been no action by the court for more than 2 years. There are 58 current on-going cases, and 182 are resolved cases.
The database now holds information about 3,000 clients who have used the services of LAW Inc. since 1998. The data yields a lot about the profile of abused women and the effect of the changing environment including the introduction of Republic Act 9262 and its effect on strengthening women’s rights.
Ms. Finch presented the database on August 13 to the Cebu Provincial Women’s Commission headed by Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, chairperson of the Provincial Women’s Commission.
Hopefully, the database will encourage the Commission and other women NGOs to come up with their own database to help researchers and women advocates in assessing their work.
Congratulations LAW Inc. for a pioneering work and thank you, Frances Finch for helping us who are working for women, manage information.
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