The demand for more and better gender data is on the rise. Global, regional, and national initiatives cite the economic and social value of gender equality. Thanks to the efforts of many advocates, our collective recognition of the importance of gender data has increased. We now have a much better understanding of gender data gaps: where they are, what causes them, and what needs to be done to fill them. However, increased awareness of the importance of gender data and of gaps in statistical systems has not been met with increased financing. Monitoring of aid for data—and gender data in particular—shows that financial flows have stagnated in recent years. Persistent low levels of financing for gender data go hand in hand with recurring gender data gaps. How do we remedy this problem and break this vicious cycle?
This report takes a detailed look at the state of gender data financing, starting with a landscape assessment of the gender data ecosystem, the core elements of that system, its stakeholders, and the links of gender data to policy. The report then highlights existing funding for gender data, the gender data systems that this funding currently supports, and the gap between current financing and the level of financing that is needed to fully fund gender data systems from now until 2030. The report also provides an overview of the financing options available to fill the funding gap and it concludes with suggestions on six areas of action for the way forward.
The main messages from the study are:
Gender data instruments overlap significantly with those needed by robust statistical systems.
A review of over 100 gender data stakeholders shows that most efforts to support gender data take place at the international level, demonstrating a need for increased advocacy efforts at the regional, national, and local levels.
Most gender data stakeholders focus on production rather than the use of gender data. Increased focus on data use would support the virtuous cycle of demand leading to greater supply. The analysis also shows that while it is a crowded space with many organizations interested in gender data, few organizations are funding efforts themselves.
The level of development aid for gender data is not increasing sufficiently to build robust gender data ecosystems in low- and middle-income countries. Neither countries, through their domestic resource mobilization, nor international donors are providing the levels of investments needed. Despite added demands placed on statistical systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic, less than half a percent of international aid for COVID-19 relief as of August 2020 had a primary focus on data and statistics, of which only 11 percent had a gender statistics component according to PRESS2020 (PARIS21 2020b).
The research reveals more information on main sources of funding, donors, and recipients: § The total amount of financing for gender data is driven by a small number of large projects. Overall funding is volatile, with substantial changes year-over-year. § Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries accounted for the most funding for gender data between 2014 and 2018, with Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom leading the way. § Regional and multi-country projects account for roughly half of all the commitments for gender data.
The study examined the capacity of 74 IDA-eligible countries to produce core gender data instruments: § Foundational systems in many countries are weak. Two-thirds of IDA-eligible countries have low to middling civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems that cannot provide women with adequate visibility in population estimates or the documentation they need, such as birth certificates to access services and education. In addition, while only seven countries do not plan to conduct a census during the current round, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to significant delays in many others. § Only two countries conduct enough household surveys and only ten conduct enough labor force surveys to provide data at adequate frequency, but most countries have conducted income/expenditure surveys at regular intervals. § Administrative data systems are also weak. Over eighty percent of countries have low functioning education or health management information systems, showing a persistent need for increased investment in these systems.
To fully fund core gender data systems, donor support averaging $500 million a year is needed, or roughly twice the recent level of support. Recognizing that full support for core gender data systems cannot be achieved immediately, a “glidepath” to increased funding is suggested to achieve full funding by 2030.
Based on these findings, the report offers a way forward by calling on the gender data community to: 1. Build a coalition for more and better financing. 2. Increase demand for gender data. 3. Deliver on the promise of new sources of data. 4. Encourage a country-driven approach. 5. Prioritize core data systems. 6. Advocate for increased donor funding.
This is an ambitious agenda that tries to solve a significant and persistent problem. Working with partners through various networks, we will share our knowledge and work toward a joint plan of action to build a sustainable environment for more and better gender data financing.