The Power of Networks: Advancing Gender Data and Statistics in Africa

Jahanara Saeed May 20, 2022

This blog was cross posted from the Open Data Watch website.

As we move closer to 2030, it is important to reflect on our progress to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which is not possible without accurate, timely, and high-quality gender data. Capacity constraints, lack of political will, and inefficient funding, however, hamper a country’s ability to monitor and enact inclusive development policies.

Cross-country knowledge exchange, focusing on national staff in charge of data, is an important mechanism to address these challenges. Such exchanges can create a learning network to apply and scale good practices to produce, analyze, and use gender data. This is most evident through the experience of the Gender Data Network (GDN). Founded in 2019, the GDN is a joint initiative between the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Data2X, PARIS21, and Open Data Watch (ODW). The GDN organizes a range of events to bring together gender data focal points from national statistical offices in 15 countries across Africa, creating opportunities for members to engage with each other, strengthen their skills, and learn from experts.

A recently launched report, Advancing Gender Data and Statistics in Africadocuments the activities of the GDN since its inception and outlines its positive impact on members. As noted by Glory Mshali, a participating member from Malawi, the GDN “helps us as a country, as the training I receive directly improves national statistics, as well as how I write reports and disseminate information.” This is further emphasized by Emma Phiri, a member from Zambia, who notes that “thanks to the knowledge [I have] acquired from communications training with the GDN, I now have the confidence to do gender communications work.”

As elaborated on in the report, in just two years the GDN has established itself as a cornerstone of the gender data and statistics community in Africa. There have been several contributing factors to this success including:

  1. A supportive platform that facilitates networking and cross-country exchanges.
  2. Learning about new technical advancements from experts and their peers.
  3. Leveraging the network to build political buy-in to prioritize gender data in budgeting processes.
  4. Building skills in new areas related to data communications, open data, and data use.

The network is now considering its next phase and the GDN partnership is excited to scale up these lessons by expanding to other parts of the world. It is only with such dedication and collaboration that we can collect and use the right data to ensure no one is left behind.

Read the report.

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