Women celebrate International Women’s Day in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. A new initiative aims to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through partnerships that improve better collection and use of data for policy and investments. Photo by: Ky Chung / United Nations / CC BY-NC-ND

The U.S. government and other key development actors will soon be sharing more data and working to further improve collection of information about women and girls.

The Millenium Challenge Corp., PEPFAR, the World Bank, several U.N. agencies and other development organizations came together Monday to make new commitments through Data2x, an initiative led by the United Nations Foundation that works to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through partnerships that improve the collection and use of data to guide policy and investments.

“Good decisions in government, in business, in life are based on evidence rather than ideology or gut feelings or anecdotes and that is especially true when it comes to policies that will affect millions of people,” former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who helped launch Data2x in 2012 — said Monday during an event to measure progress and announce the new partnerships.

Many development organizations have learned that better data can help craft better programs, target interventions and make better policy. However, often that information is not reported including a gender factor, which makes it hard to identify what challenges women face and what can be done to help achieve development goals related to women and girls.

To that end, PEPFAR announced it will be releasing its data disaggregated by age and gender on a newly designed dashboard. The agency is sharing the information in part because of the lessons it has learned by analyzing the more detailed data — including identifying the trend that in many countries HIV prevalence among young women age 15 to 19 is three times higher than it is for men.

Heather Higginbottom, U.S. deputy secretary of state for management and resources, explained this more open sharing of data will “allow the U.S. government and every country and organization to better target efforts and be accountable for achieving results.”

MCC is also committing to greater transparency and will make all of its existing gender data publicly available by the end of 2015 and improve the collection and analysis of future sex-disaggregated data for its programs. The agency said it will partner with the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, Data2x and the U.N. Development Program to bring together stakeholders to draft recommendations on how to use sex-disaggregated data on results into the global reporting standard formed by the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Lastly, MCC will also issue an open data challenge to incentivize the use of gender data to improve policy, partly through national consultations.

The other commitments were:

● The International Labor Organization, the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization are working together to move ahead with the adoption of new ways of measuring work so that both paid and unpaid productive activities are counted — a critical step in recognizing the economic contributions of women and girls.

● The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa, the Africa program for accelerated improvement of civil registration and vital statistics and the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific are partnering with national and regional bodies to incorporate civil registration and vital statistics into their plans through technical assistance and advocacy.

● The Global Banking Alliance for Women and the Inter-American Development Bank will provide banks incentives to collect and report of sex-disaggregated data so they can recognize women as a distinct client group, create targeted products and better serve female clients.

● The government of Mexico, through its National Institute of Statistics and Geography, plans to pilot new approaches to gender data collection, including subjective measures in addition to standard income-based measurements and working to disseminate the knowledge.

● A new initiative from U.N. Global Pulse and U.N. Women will explore the use of big data in informing more efficient and effective programs through pilot studies that will test cell call records, satellite information and Twitter data.

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About the author

  • Adva Saldinger

    Adva Saldinger is an Associate Editor at Devex, where she covers the intersection of business and international development, as well as U.S. foreign aid policy. From partnerships to trade and social entrepreneurship to impact investing, Adva explores the role the private sector and private capital play in development. A journalist with more than 10 years of experience, she has worked at several newspapers in the U.S. and lived in both Ghana and South Africa.