Counting Feminicide: Data Feminism in Action

Community Organizing, Data Science, Feminism

Why grassroots data activists in Latin America count feminicide—and how this vital social justice work challenges mainstream data science.

In collaboration with Feminicidio Uruguay, The Latin American Initiative for Open Data (ILDA), The Data Culture Lab

What isn’t counted doesn’t count. And mainstream institutions systematically fail to account for feminicide, the gender-related killing of women and girls, including cisgender and transgender women. Against this failure, Counting Feminicide brings to the fore the work of data activists across the Americas who are documenting such murders—and challenging the reigning logic of data science by centering care, memory, and justice in their work. Drawing on Data Against Feminicide, a large-scale collaborative research project, Catherine D’Ignazio describes the creative, intellectual, and emotional labor of feminicide data activists who are at the forefront of a data ethics that rigorously and consistently takes power and people into account.

Cover of book counting feminicide
Counting Feminicide: Data Feminism in Action

Individuals, researchers, and journalists—these data activists scour news sources to assemble spreadsheets and databases of women killed by gender-related violence, then circulate those data in a variety of creative and political forms. Their work reveals the potential of restorative/transformative data science—the use of systematic information to, first, heal communities from the violence and trauma produced by structural inequality, and second, to envision and work towards the world in which such violence has been eliminated. Specifically, D’Ignazio explores the possibilities and limitations of counting and quantification—reducing complex social phenomena to convenient, sortable, aggregable forms—when the goal is nothing short of the elimination of gender-related violence.

Counting Feminicide showcases the incredible power of data feminism in action, in which each murdered woman or girl counts, and, in being counted, joins a collective demand for the restoration of rights and a transformation of the gendered order of the world.


Catherine D’Ignazio

Student Researchers

Isadora Cruxên, Angeles Martinez Cuba, Alessandra Jungs de Almeida, Melissa Q. Teng, Wonyoung So, Tiandra Ray, Valentina Pedroza Muñoz, Harini Suresh, Amelia Dogan, Soyoun Kang, Niki Karanikola, Patricia Michelle García Iruegas, Mariel García-Montes, Ana Amelia Letelier, Rajiv Movva, Luciana Ribeiro da Silva, Thuận Tran


  • Transnational: Draws from a transnational, participatory action research (PAR) and design (PD) project, Data Against Feminicide.
  • Innovative review process: the first draft of Counting Feminicide was published for open community review in Nov. 2022, garnering hundreds of comments from scholars, activists and the general public. Moreover, D’Ignazio augmented traditional peer review by convening an Academic-Community Advisory Board to give peer feedback on the manuscript.
  • Open Access: Thanks to funding from MIT Libraries, Counting Feminicide will be published open access.

Media References

“Counterdata on Feminicides: Participatory Development of an Algorithm.” Scienzainrete.It, Clare Sabelli, June 27, 2022.

“Data Activism to Monitor and Combat Femicides.” Servicio de Información y Noticias Científicas (SINC), Ana Hernando, June 17, 2022.

“Researchers Recognize Activists’ Work Using Data Science to Monitor and Challenge Feminicide.” Science X, Cell Press, June 16, 2022.


The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA


National Science Foundation, HASS Award (DUSP), MIT Libraries

Counting Feminicide will be open access and you can also buy it from MIT Press.