Tracking Gender Aid Data for Better Gender Equality
Overview: This project seeks to improve the publication of gender-related financial and programmatic data to achieve better development outcomes and ultimately to contribute to addressing gender inequality at the global level. We will use a combination of desk research, in-country study, and technical recommendations to improve gender disaggregated aid data at both the country and the global level. The project will look at financial data as well as information such as objectives, sub-national locations, and performance of aid and development projects. We will use the findings and recommendations to advocate for better gender disaggregated data. This fills a need in the gender data space, as it is difficult to track which donors are funding what activities, for what purpose, and with what results.
The Issue: If donors and other stakeholders do not fully understand who is spending what, where, and to what effect to address gender inequality, we risk only seeing a portion of the development picture. With so much still to be done to eradicate extreme poverty, and with the role of women and girls so central to this, we cannot afford to overlook, nor underestimate, the contribution of women and girls everywhere to this important goal.
There is now a global consensus that tackling gender inequality, including through Sustainable Development Goal 5, is a crucial step in the improvement of overall development outcomes. Part of these efforts include calls for improved transparency, collaboration, and disaggregation of data.
There is significant work already underway to address various gender needs. For example, Equal Measures 2030, through its recently released 2019 Gender Report, is tracking gender equality across 129 countries using a variety of indicators to measure progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are funds, such as the Equality Fund and OPIC 2X, which are focusing on various investments in gender equality and economic empowerment. Gender 2x advocates for better gender disaggregated data. Finally, there are a number of NGOs (e.g., Plan International and Save the Children) which have gender equality as a major focus of their advocacy and programmatic work.
Despite all of these efforts, what is not adequately being captured is data to track who is funding what, for what purpose, and with what results. Meeting the SDGs will require this kind of robust information, particularly at the country level, in order to direct (or redirect) coordinate, and address the gaps.
Some funding flows are now being captured through the two largest sources of open aid data: the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). Both platforms have gender policy markers which allow publishers to identify their funding flows as gender related. For example, OECD-DAC data allows publishers to identify projects in three ways, namely those which they consider to be principally (2), significantly (1), or not at all (0) related to gender. IATI takes a similar approach, allowing publishers to apply the gender marker in one of three levels of significance, matching the OECD-DAC levels — 0, 1, and 2. Despite these tools, development actors struggle to track current and projected gender related financing, and remain unable to trace effectively how, where, and to what effect gender funds are spent. The markers, by themselves, are insufficient to meet most user needs – while they may be an early indication of a gender focus, they are not uniformly applied or used.
Approach and Methodology: The purpose of this project is to improve the publication of gender-related financial and programmatic data (project information, including information such as project objectives, sub-national location, and performance) to improve development outcomes and ultimately contribute to addressing gender inequality at the global level. Using a country-based approach, we will track the gender-related aid by the top 3-5 donors to determine what information is available and what is missing. Based on this user experience, we will ultimately provide targeted recommendations and advocate for changes to the publication of gender data. More specifically our work will include:
Research to establish a solid evidence-base on how much is being spent on gender, on what and how work on-the-ground meaningfully contributes to meeting SDG 5, including whether resources are targeted to meet identified needs. We will establish an informal advisory group of national and international gender specialists, who will advise and support our in-country research. We will follow up on that research with in-country research both to validate and supplement our desk review findings. In order to gain a complete picture, we will conduct key informant interviews (KIIs) in country with various stakeholders, including government officials, members of civil society, project implementers, and other donor organizations.
We will produce short, usable reports on the in-country findings and other advocacy materials to provide relevant policy makers with information on how gender aid is being spent at the country-level.
We will also produce a separate transparency report, which will discuss what information gender specialists need, how many of those needs are being presently met, how useful and granular current available data is, what specific donors can do to improve their data quality, and how mechanisms for sharing data, such as global data standards, might need to improve.
Ultimately, we will use the findings and recommendations to advocate for the recommended changes at the global level.