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Experts from African and Arab States: Increase Focus on Gender Data Investment to Drive Progress for Everyone

Leaders from the public sector, civil society, international development, and media in Africa and Arab States gathered for a pre-International Women’s Day 2024 roundtable discussion focusing on gender data as a driver for progress towards regional and global objectives.

On the 8th of March each year, International Women’s Day is celebrated with this year’s theme being Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress. This theme emphasizes the significance of investing in women through various means to expedite social and economic advancement and sustainable development for all.

During the discussions led by experts from finance and gender ministries in countries like Morocco, Uganda, Senegal, Rwanda, and Cameroon, the focus was on how investments are being ramped up in producing and utilizing gender data for quicker social and economic development.

Krista Baptista, the Executive Director of Data 2X, a global gender data alliance, stressed the importance of gender data in understanding the realities of women, girls, and gender diverse communities, monitoring progress on gender equality, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite the significance of gender data, there are still gaps and a lack of investment in this area, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19 and in conflict zones.

Baptista mentioned that globally, around $500 million is required annually to adequately fund core gender data systems by 2030. However, funding for gender data decreased by more than half (55 percent) in 2020, endangering progress as more than 25 percent of SDG indicators for gender equality are not on track.

The need for collaboration between gender data producers and the media was highlighted by John Allan Namu, an award-winning journalist and founder/CEO of Africa Uncensored. He emphasized the role of the media in disseminating important gender data information.

Christine Mungai, Senior Producer for CNN As Equals and Lead Curator at Baraza Media Lab, stressed the necessity for more nuanced data beyond raw numbers to better comprehend the situation of women and girls.

African countries and Arab States are increasingly aware of these challenges and are working towards utilizing gender data to expedite progress towards the SDGs, Agenda 2063, and other regional and national development priorities.

For example, Morocco’s Center of Excellence for Gender-Responsive Budgeting (GRB) is leading in gender responsive planning and budgeting, as mentioned by Ben-Nasar Boularbah, the Head of Gender-Responsive Budgeting at the Ministry of Finance.

Several countries are employing gender data to connect public spending to economic decisions that benefit women, girls, and society as a whole. Margaret Kakande, Head of Budget Monitoring and Accountability at the Ministry of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development in Uganda, highlighted the positive effects of gender-responsive budgeting on inclusive growth in the country.

Rwanda is using gender data to address gender-based violence (GBV), with gender data informing the revision of the National Policy against Gender-Based Violence in 2011, as highlighted by Rurihose Florien, Deputy Chief Gender Monitor at the Rwanda Gender Monitoring Office.

Experts also emphasized the shift towards a “care society,” which involves acknowledging and managing the time spent by both women and men on paid work versus unpaid care and domestic work to promote economic and social growth.

Antonia Ngabala-Sodonon, UN Women Special Representative and Head of Liaison to the African Union Commission and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, stressed the role of gender data in developing effective policies to break the cycle of inequalities hindering women and girls from fulfilling their potential.

This content was distributed by APO Group on behalf of UN Women – Africa.

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