The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged $80 million over three years in support of efforts to close the gender data gap and accelerate progress for women and girls around the world.
Announced by Gates Foundation co-chair Melinda Gates at the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, the funding will address the lack of current, comprehensive information about women and girls — a gap that threatens efforts to advance gender equality and achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Among other things, the grant will support efforts to fill critical data gaps, including the time women and girls spend on unpaid work and the implications of that for their opportunities related to education, employment, and entrepreneurship; improve the accuracy and reliability of data collection; equip decision makers with more timely and clearer evidence about effective programs and interventions; and amplify and strengthen organizations and platforms that keep gender equality at the center of global and national development efforts.
Governments and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations also released a statement of principles regarding the importance of gender data for accelerating development outcomes and pledged to increase their "focus and investments toward closing the core gender data challenges…issues of systematic gender bias in existing measurement tools, fragmentation of gender data stakeholders, and technical and capacity challenges of national statistical systems must also be addressed." In addition to the Gates Foundation, the letter's signatories include the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Data2X, Global Affairs Canada, the UK's Department for International Development, the United Nations Foundation, UN Women, USAID, the U.S. Department of State, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the World Bank Group.
"By adopting the SDGs, the world agreed to achieve gender equality by 2030. But we cannot close the gender gap without first closing the data gap," said Gates. "We simply don't know enough about the barriers holding women and girls back, nor do we have sufficient information to track progress against the promises made to women and girls. We are committed to changing that by investing in better data, policies, and accountability."