The Power of Data to Free Women and Girls

May 19, 2018 Alison Holder

How can communities around the world take bigger, bolder steps to free millions of women, men and children to live beyond the gendered stereotypes imposed on us all? Thanks to new platforms, technology and increasingly connected lives, data and stories shared widely can be powerful tools to reveal differences and build a much stronger picture of the injustice that women and girls experience worldwide.

To count we must be counted. Girls’ and women’s movements and advocates have powerful voices in every place they speak, and the more data and evidence they bring to the table, the more women and girls they can represent. Data can start out small, with facts, figures and stories gathered within communities over months and years, driven by a bigger need to expose injustice or make a case for change.

From these small seeds at the community level we can measure injustice and wasted potential, and turn this into powerful advocacy tools in the fight for women and girls to be seen. In a world where girls and women are too often silenced, data gathered about, for and by girls and women becomes even more precious.

At Equal Measures 2030 we strive to bring data and evidence to the fight because we know that counting matters. This missing picture has stalled global progress towards gender equality. The different valuing of women and girls in society means that we have to work harder to bring this information into the light and to use it to drive change on global commitments like the Sustainable Development Goals.

By drawing up a global picture of how we already access information, what is useful and what is missing, we can make a stronger case for better investment in gendered data and in the work of girls’ and women’s movements and advocates who use data and evidence to push for faster progress.

We have already witnessed the power of published gender pay gaps in the UK expose the reality of different incomes for women, and how it’s powered individual and collective discussions about reducing the national pay gap from 19.1% to 0%. Without the data on pay gaps, women were guessing as to their disadvantage and it was easy to pretend there was no gap due to equality legislation. In reality, the complex drivers behind different pay need to be unpicked, policies developed and societal attitudes challenged. This was the power of different gender equality advocates valuing data and forcing good government data where it matters.

If you’ve ever felt frustration, anger or despair that the data and stories you really needed to campaign on an issue affecting girls and women especially wasn’t available, it’s time to raise your voice and bring these issues to the forefront, so we can work towards collective change.

Through the Equal Measure 2030 Global Advocates Survey (open until 20 May), we want to reach a new understanding of what gender equality data is already doing and what we need to collectively change. With your help we can bring gender data out of the shadows and into the policy debate.

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