Pricey but priceless: the cost of funding a quality gender data system

Shaida Badiee August 23, 2019

The G7 leaders will gather starting tomorrow to focus on a key area of France’s G7 presidency, “fighting against inequality”.

At the summit, the global community has an opportunity to make real commitments to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a particularly good opportunity to move the needle on gender equality which, according to the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council, should be a “standalone theme in all G7 deliberations.

To ensure progress on gender equality—and the SDGs more broadly—more and better gender data, used for better decision-making, is indisputably key. Yet significant gender data gaps remain in many of the SDG indicators related to gender equality. UN Women estimates that over 76% of available gender data was generated before 2010, and only 22% of gender-specific indicators are produced regularly worldwide.

Filling these gender data gaps won’t be possible without financial investment. Indeed, the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council emphasizes that achieving any of the G7 gender equality commitments “means little if national budgets don’t reflect these priorities.”

Photo credit: G7 France (

But how much financing is needed to consistently measure the gender-relevant SDG indicators until 2030? Data2X, in partnership with Open Data Watch and input from PARIS21, explored this question in a new paper earlier this year—with the goal of identifying associated costs, illuminating current funding gaps, and determining how those gaps can be filled.

Our estimate is that it will take between $170-240 million between now and 2030 to fund a core gender data system.

There are two important notes on this estimate. First, information on data financing is collected in a way that makes it difficult to connect funding sources to specific data. Second, the inputs needed to create a high-quality core gender data system overlap with many other parts of the data system. So, while filling gender data gaps is a challenge, it is also a compelling prospect: it can pave the way for fillings gaps on other disenfranchised and underrepresented groups.

This fall we will roll out further work on understanding financing for gender data, including:

  • A mapping of the roles that various stakeholders play in gender data production and use;
  • An estimation of the ‘marginal’ cost of incorporating gender data into the overall data system (as a possible alternative to knowing the core gender data system number) and;
  • A menu of options for financing—focused on practical, achievable mechanisms for increasing investment in gender data.

As the global community gears up for the G7 Summit tomorrow, closely followed by the first-ever SDG Summit and High-level Dialogue on Financing for Development in September, we urge our partners in government, civil society, and donor communities to increase attention on financing for gender data as a key component of SDG progress.

New and improved funding for gender data is a necessity for delivering over the next decade.

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