September 20, 2016
Written by Robyn Norton
This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post.
“We cannot close the gender gap without first closing the data gap.”
This was perhaps the defining statement at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen in May 2016. It was made by Melinda Gates, in announcing that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be committing $80 million to help reduce the gaps in data on women and girls.
At the same meeting, a global consortium of government and non-government partners announced accelerated progress toward meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of achieving gender equality by 2030 through an increase in focus and resources aimed at addressing the core gender data challenges.
The timing of this announcement is exciting, because the Gates Foundation’s commitment provides the consortium’s initiatives significant financial backing.
These announcements and commitments recognize the importance of high quality, sex-disaggregated data in determining, first, whether differences exist between women and men; second, the underlying causes of these differences; and third, the impact of interventions to reduce them. Sex-specific data is an essential foundation for smart policy — and the lack of such data has contributed to slower progress in achieving gender equality.