Women of OpenUp: Chantal Booyse

Meet Chantal, our Stakeholder strategist

Tell us a little about you?

I am Chantal Booyse, a local government practitioner. I am focused on representing the voices of women and youth on all platforms where decisions are made that impact their lives. My core goal is to empower youth, communities and families in terms of dialogue and advocacy through civic technology.

What are you working on at OpenUp? How does that work inspire you?

I spearhead the local government programme and I am inspired by the fact that I was an IDP/LED practitioner myself, had many challenges in informed decision making due to a lack of access to up to date, well analysed, and well-packaged data. Working at OpenUp made me realise that there are so many opensource online tools available and presenting this to my former colleagues inspires me tremendously because it positively influences their day to day operations.

Tell us about a failure you’ve had and what you’ve learnt from it?

The greatest failure I had was when I was a project manager on a tech project. I brought in donor money and my contract expired the very day after the money was paid to the organisation. My contract was not renewed and I had to look for other work, whilst my junior got appointed in my position. The lesson that I took from this is that you need to value your strength, skills and understand that people are not loyal to you. You need to make very sure that you don’t enrich others on their terms and that you need to have open doors to your principals so that you can influence your future. I will never work on a contract basis ever again, and if that is the only option I will rather venture into building my legacy.

How did your work begin?

I championed a project called the Municipal Barometer when I worked for SALGA National. I met Adi at the ERLN conference, invited him for a meeting at SALGA to see how his expertise could improve the tech side of the Municipal Barometer as well as the front-end. As we continued to meet, I was headhunted by Adi for a particular skill he noticed I have which is stakeholder engagement and networking. I joined OpenUp two years after we met on the 1st of November 2017.

Who supports your work?

I am an independent woman who sustains myself in life. My parents and my close friends are my circle of supporters in everything I do. They contribute in terms of motivating me, praying for me and LISTENING when I need a soundboard.

Would you describe any aspect of your work in particular, as advocating the women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes?

Imagine how much louder the voices of women would have been if the technology was accessible to particular movements back in the day? Most aspects of my work is a feminist reality — without tech solutions, I would not have access to the target audience that I need to reach. Tech allows me to connect and educate people around their rights as citizens and how to use tech to change social issues. The fight for equality is still very real, hence digital innovation is a critical success factor for modern feminism. Technology is still a male-dominated sector, hence through my work, I want to push the women onto the tech agenda, despite the challenges in rural areas where wifi and access to the internet are not easily accessible. This should, however, not impede women to be part of tech-led projects.

What’s the world you’re trying to build?

The world I am trying to build is for citizens to become part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by co-creating smart cities with local government and to have a tech solution that empowers citizens to communicate with local government to improve service delivery.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Become actively part of the digital transformation era, empower yourself and change your life and the lives of others through online dialogue and advocacy.

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