Ahead of the launch of our zine Data for Gender Equality, we sat down with gender data advocates and asked them to share one uncomfortable truth about the state of gender data and one audacious dare to funders to change this picture.
This is what they had to say...
Global poverty measurement is problematic
Fund gender-sensitive poverty data
Millions of dollars are spent each year on collecting poverty data about households. But, measuring the poverty of households hides differences between household members. This makes it more difficult to see inequalities that do exist. It also misses around one-third of global inequality.
So, data are inaccurate and incomplete and this slows action on poverty and inequality, including gender inequality. Put another way, we are paying money to collect data that is insufficient and inadequate.
But there is an alternative.
Equality Insights is a gender data program delivered by IWDA which has a focus on poverty and inequality. Equality Insights is also the name of a tool - an individual-level, gender-sensitive measure of multidimensional poverty - which was developed to address exactly this problem.
Poor measurement that hides gendered realities is no small issue. It perpetuates poverty and inequality. It wastes money and time. It makes it harder to achieve the goals countries have committed to.
Our dare to funders and those who shape funding priorities is this:
For decades there has been agreement that gender-sensitive poverty data is important but the lack of funding for gender data would suggest otherwise. It’s time to fund gender data to a level that matches rhetorical agreement about its value.
Funders, you say it matters. We agree! You can fix this!
Data remains concentrated in the hands of very few
Support gender data financially and politically
An uncomfortable truth is this:
Data is one of the global economy’s most valuable assets, and yet it remains concentrated in the hands of very few—mainly, public agencies and private tech companies. This data is made available for public good only on an ad-hoc basis.
This isn’t decolonial, and it certainly isn’t feminist. We must start talking about data rights in feminist terms of power—where the people who generate data have a direct say in how it’s deployed.
That’s why in partnership with the Aapti Institute, Data2X is piloting a powerful new model: data cooperatives.
Just as traditional co-ops allow people control over labour and capital—such as worker’s co-ops or credit unions—data cooperatives offer control over data.
Their dare to funders is this:
Funders’ support—not only financially, but also politically—is critical to realise this vision.
Instead of seeing data only as a tool to fill knowledge gaps, it’s time to shift the conversation to emphasise how people gain ownership over their digital lives. Because women, girls, and gender-diverse people will only benefit from the digital revolution if they have an equal voice in the generation, analysis, and use of the data that drives it.
The lack of climate action - deepened by racist, imperialist hetero-patriarchy - is devastating climate frontline communities throughout the world, including diverse Pacific Island communities.
Stop all work on feminist data and analysis that is egoist, commodified, unnecessary and extraneous. Instead, keep and advance feminist data and analysis which serve the survival of our species, other species, and this living planet.
Based in Fiji, DIVA for Equality are a feminist Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (LBT) collective working on issues of human rights and social justice, including sexual reproductive and health rights, ecological justice and feminist social organising.
They had a powerful message for us all - one which holds rage at the lack of adequate climate action for the survival of climate frontline communities throughout the world, including diverse Pacific Island communities.
DIVA shared this uncomfortable truth:
We are here to work out how to better document loss and damage. We are here to share the strength and necessity of diverse, feminist-rooted work in both Majority and Minority Worlds and to hold all accountable.
DIVA wants data and analysis of these sets of truths to be easier, resourced and practical. The crucial feminist data and analysis that is needed now, is that which helps us to orient ourselves to confront this mammoth patriarchal system of many arms that means some people think they have the right to run the world, and that others need to serve them in this endeavour.
Racist, imperialist hetero-patriarchy is doing what it has always done. We know its impacts. We live with these impacts every day. The data we need is that which helps us organise stronger, quicker and with more strategic intent and to take the struggles to the highest and deepest levels.
We are here to bring down old oppressive systems and create new feminist ones for liberation, ecological balance and justice.
We are in ecocidal times, so we dare everyone to put down all work on feminist data and analysis that is egoist, commodified, unnecessary and extraneous, and to keep and advance that which serves the survival of our species, other species that we are taking to extinction at an extraordinary rate, and for this living planet. Time is short.
In total, 78% of the 231 indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals Framework are gender-blind.
Invest in initiatives that increase the supply of data whilst also increasing capacity for the use of this data for feminist movements and women’s rights organisations
In total, 78% out of the 231 indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Framework are gender-blind. This means only one in five indicators use a gender lens.
Of the 193 countries who committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda, not one country has all the data available on these limited gender-specific SDG indicators.
If we continue at this historical average annual rate of increase of three percentage points, it will take 22 years for countries to make all SDG gender data available, more than a decade past the 2030 deadline for the SDGs.
Equal Measures 2030’s dare to funders is to:
Invest in initiatives that increase the supply of data (especially data that allows for intersectional analyses) whilst also increasing capacity for the use of this data for feminist movements and women’s rights organisations.
Trust in the power of data at the hands of gender advocates.
Truth & Dare Five
Use gender data and feminist analysis to act on gender-based violence
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement is a multiethnic and multicultural non-governmental organisation committed to removing discrimination against women through institutional reform and attitudinal change. FWRM practices and promotes feminism, democracy and the rule of law, good governance and human rights. This is what they had to say.
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) has been using gender and feminist analysis to inspire change and achieve gender equality for over thirty years.
This data and analysis serve as evidence that we use to show duty bearers which laws and policies can be made to serve all women and girls in Fiji.
It is particularly important against a backdrop of extremely high rates of gender-based violence.
Smaller data surveys and evidence are useful tools to amplify women’s voices –but there needs to be enough political will by those in power to listen and accept the evidence.
For example, of the 'Stop Sexual Harassment' work done by FWRM over the last three decades to bring about awareness and change on Fiji –and now in the Pacific region in terms of making workplaces space for women.
Gender data and statistics are still not recognised as a vital part of the agenda for gender equality
Consider how you count on gender data to shine a light on inequality and injustice, to envision solutions, and to drive change
This is their uncomfortable truth:
Gender data and statistics are still not recognised as a vital part of the agenda for gender equality.
National statistical offices and statistical systems work tirelessly to provide high-quality, granular data and statistics for governments and their partners –often in the face of significant resource and capacity constraints.
But we're still a long way from where we need to be in gender data production.
Official statistics are an important piece of the puzzle in delivering more and better gender data.
As our friends at the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda say, “if you don't count, you don't count!”.
Closing the gender data gap is about more than reporting - it's about representation.
PARIS21 research has shown that in 2020, on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, financing for gender statistics dropped to a ten-year low –a 55% percent cut compared to the three-year average. This trend is decoupled from financing for gender equality – showing a critical disconnect between evidence and action.
Even as we faced a global set-back in gender equality on multiple fronts, the evidence to understand and reverse these trends became more scarce. We can (and must!) learn from the past and do better in the future by working to make data ecosystems more connected, gender transformative and impactful.
PARIS21's dare is this:
To consider how you count on gender data to shine a light on inequality and injustice, to envision solutions, to drive change.
Bring gender data onto the agenda for gender equality through financing, collaboration, and advocacy.
Finally, we spoke to the Women + Environment Development Organization - a global women’s advocacy organization working towards a just world by promoting and protecting human rights, gender equality, and the integrity of the environment.
While many are talking about gender and climate change, the same tired tropes and old statistics persist:
- Women are disproportionately affected by climate crisis;
- Women are more likely to die in a disaster than men;
- Decision-making around climate and environment is dominated by men.
Join us in driving and supporting data at the interface of gender and the environment, especially data that is produced by women in the Majority World.
These days everyone is talking about gender and climate change, but we’re stuck in the same tired tropes and old statistics: women are disproportionately affected by climate crisis; women are more likely to die in a disaster than men; decision-making around climate and environment is dominated by men.
How do we transform this situation and ensure better policy, programming, and financing for gender-just climate action?
We need to ensure that data and research on gender and the environment is firstly compiled and secondly used, especially by those with decision-making power.
WEDO coordinates two initiatives that aim to contribute to gender-transformative climate and environment action through research and data – both of which are co-created, feminist spaces seeking additional participation.
Our newest is the Gender and Environment Data Alliance (GEDA), which we co-convene alongside IUCN and 17 other founding members, including IWDA and Data2X.
GEDA brings together diverse organisations working on the intersection of gender and environment through a data lens, and we’re specifically seeking both funders and new members, especially from the Global Majority.
We curate and amplify gender and environment data - through trainings, sub-grants, and the creation of a reference hub compiling data and analysis on gender and the environment.
One of the sources for that analysis is our flagship initiative, the Gender Climate Tracker (GCT), which maps references to gender in official UNFCCC decisions and country policies, and tracks women’s participation in the negotiations.
The GCT is a co-created interface - you can download the app and become a Gender Climate Tracker yourself, uploading resources and helping to get this fundamental data and information into the hands of decision-makers.
Our dare to feminist funders is to join us in driving and supporting data at the interface of gender and the environment, especially that produced by women in the Majority World.
We can close this gap once and for all, and protect both people and planet through better policy.
Gender data is a powerful tool in the push for gender equality, and these organisations are at the forefront of the movement - devising solutions, demanding change, and raising the standards to ensure inclusive and gender-sensitive data is the norm.
The Data for Gender Equality Zine is a compilation of writing and artwork by these organisations, exploring themes of gender climate justice, inclusive poverty measurement, data cooperatives, and gender-based violence among other topics. Read it below!
IWDA is an Australian-based organisation, resourcing diverse women’s rights organisations primarily in Asia and the Pacific and contributing to global feminist movements to advance our vision of gender equality for all. Our flagship program Equality Insights collects gender sensitive data about poverty and inequality to inspire social change.