Why Gender Data Matters: Measuring Critical Dimensions of the Lives of Women and Girls


January 18, 2017


Source: Unsplash.com, Annie Spratt.

Gender data is so important. It’s important to the work of the United Nations, and it’s equally important to the work of Global Moms Challenge. This data is the most practical way to measure critical dimensions of the lives of women and girls, from their financial contributions to their level of access to the vital services they need to live and thrive. In a recent article, Emily Courey Pryor, Executive Director, Data2X, stated that if we do not do this, “we undervalue their roles and experiences in society, entrench biases, and ultimately, leave women and girls behind.”

The first UN World Data Forum is being held this week by Statistics South Africa, under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission. Pryor believes it is crucial to discuss gender data there. Watch the video below and find out why she’s in Cape Town.

We’ve spoken a lot about the significance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the Global Moms Challenge blog, most recently during the United Nations General Assembly.  In order to achieve our desired goals for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, which are laid out in SDG goal #5, we need to be able to track achievements and measure success to drive action and investment. According to Pryor, we must “match the boldness of the SDGs with timely, open and inclusive data to support our collective mission of improving outcomes for women and girls.”

The use of gender data produces results that are no less than transformative. In addition, we need to ensure quality education and economic growth for girls and women around the world.  We cannot comprehensively track SDG progress – or inform critical policy – without sex-disaggregated data to reveal the unique impacts of policies and programs on girls’ and women’s lives.

Pryor came up with four calls to action for progress in gender data that are very important to note:

  1. We need to support the work of existing data collectors and producers around the world – and support growth of the next generation – to disaggregate data by sex, to ask the right questions which generate data without gender bias, and to know how to analyze and translate their results.
  1. We need to support a cadre of policymakers who are dedicated to investing in data collection and making decisions informed by evidence.
  1. We need to understand more about what private sector sources of data can tell us about women’s and girls’ lives and contributions, and how we can better partner with the private sector on this work.
  1. We need civil society, advocates, journalists, and communities to call for gender data, translate and track that data, and use that data to hold decision-makers accountable for change.

We must continue to talk about gender data! Without it, we will never live up to our ambition of leaving no woman or child behind.

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