Complementary Paths: Investing in Gender Data Globally and Nationally

Krista Jones Baptista April 19, 2024

As the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings unfold in Washington, DC, critical topics like international development to economic recovery and climate change take center stage. Amid this bustling agenda, gender equality, financing, and data are set to feature as well. Both institutions are striving to uphold their gender commitments by improving the execution of their respective agendas. While the IMF’s Strategy Toward Mainstreaming Gender is gradually being put into action, at the World Bank, it is imperative for tangible actions to follow the commitments outlined in the 2024-2030 Gender Strategy. The unveiling of the new World Bank Group Scorecard FY24-FY30 reveals encouraging strides towards tracking the impact of WBG operations on Gender Equality.

These themes of accelerated action towards gender equality—and the importance of gender data to achieve it—connect with the discussions at the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) that took place just a few weeks ago. CSW served as a pivotal moment to assess current investment levels in gender data after the midpoint of the SDGs. It also underscored how investments in statistical systems bolster broader gender equality goals by fortifying institutions and facilitating effective financing. Political will emerged as a cornerstone to ensuring that gender data are used effectively for policy.

Within the discussions in New York, Washington, DC, and other locations around the globe, a common thread emerges: to realize our aspirations for gender equality, sustained investments in gender data are paramount. Against this backdrop, Data2X is recommitting to two strategies for driving gender data investments both at the global and at the national level. At CSW, Data2X convened two crucial events, each addressing one of these strategies for improving the gender data landscape.

Mobilizing Championship and Driving Political Will at the National Level

Amid the bustling atmosphere of CSW, Data2X and the Office of the Women’s Rights Advisor to the President of Kenya, represented by Honorable Harriette Chiggai, spearheaded an event that delved into the intricate realm of gender data as a political issue at the national level. This gathering aimed to explore how advocates, governments, and philanthropy can increase political prioritization, rally support, and enhance resourcing and accountability for gender data.

The conversation launched fresh insights from research spanning 30 countries, notably in Africa, shedding light on the political environment surrounding gender data with the new report “Building Political Will for Gender Data”. Five common dimensions constituting the political environment for gender data at the national level were identified: political support and prioritization, national policies and frameworks, coordination among government departments, domestic and external financing, and engagement with non-state actors.

Key themes emerged, emphasizing the critical need to prioritize gender data amid challenges such as insufficient funding, exacerbated by crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, even in the face of these challenges, the event served as a rallying point for solidarity across sectors. Stakeholders united in their call for increased donor support, political goodwill, routine funding, and multi-sectoral collaboration to bridge existing gaps and drive tangible change.

Notable speakers, including Honorable Chiggai, underscored the importance of gender-sensitive budgeting and financing to propel data-driven policymaking and development forward. They emphasized the need for core funding rather than mere side streams to truly support gender data initiatives.

The event illuminated the urgency of gender data efforts, calling for concerted action to harness its transformative potential. By fostering political prioritization, mobilizing resources, and enhancing accountability at the national level, stakeholders can pave the way for evidence-based policies that resonate with the diverse needs of women, girls, and gender-diverse individuals globally.

Investing in Gender Data for Gender Equality at the Global Level

In a collaborative effort alongside PARIS21, Open Data Watch, Equality Insights, Data2X, and UN Women, the second event unfolded as an interactive session to delve into the pivotal role of gender data in shaping global sustainable development policies and fostering a gender-equal future. While its counterpart event focused on political will, this gathering adopted a broader lens, offering insights into the evolving trends in gender data financing at local, regional, and global scales.

For many attendees, unfamiliar with the intricacies of gender data funding, the live polling results were eye-opening. Revelations that a mere fraction of official development assistance—$122 million—was allocated to gender data, compared to the substantial $64 billion directed towards gender equality efforts, sparked profound reflection. However, the discourse wasn’t solely about challenges; panelists engaged in dynamic exchanges, sharing best practices and innovative solutions for scaling investments in gender data. Among these solutions was the pivotal role of scaling political champions and support, a strategy poised to amplify the impact of gender data initiatives and echoed at the event on political will.

Throughout the event, participants heard compelling case studies showcasing the practical application of gender data in diverse contexts, from Australia to the Solomon Islands, and within the World Health Organization. These real-world examples underscored the transformative potential of gender data, illustrating its capacity to inform policymaking, drive program effectiveness, and bolster advocacy endeavors. These impactful narratives served as poignant reminders of the power of storytelling in advocating for continued investments in gender data.

Harnessing the Momentum

As discussions on gender equality, financing, and data gain momentum at the Spring Meetings and CSW, it is crucial to translate dialogue into action. Collaboration among agencies is essential, and Data2X is spearheading efforts to enhance collaborations and commitments at the national and global level. Together, we can ensure that gender data remains central to building a more equitable and sustainable world.

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