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Gender data for gender equality

Demand is growing for gender data and targeted solutions for challenges unique to women, men, girls or boys. In Kenya, a community gathers and discusses gender citizen-generated data, which are uploaded to mobile phones and distributed to women leaders.

DataShift has partnered with the Open Institute and Chief Francis Kariuki, also known as the “Tweeting Chief”, to collect and discuss gender data collected on the community level in Lanet Umoja Location, Nakuru County in Kenya. DataShift is an initiative of CIVICUS World Alliance that builds the capacity and confidence of civil society organisations to produce and use citizen-generated data to monitor sustainable development progress, demand accountability and campaign for transformative change. Through the project citizen-generated data gives better insights in gender-related development and governance priorities.

Data collection came first, but it is now used more frequently to empower the community to undertake advocacy campaigns targeting local government decision-making and budget processes. Ultimately the goal is to develop, test, and share widely a model for citizen engagement in domestication and tracking progress at the community level. Over time such initiatives could measure whether progress is being made or not on the Sustainable Development Goal on gender (SDG 5).

Datashift started by convening a women’s-only (young and old) community gender thematic forum with over 100 women groups, training them on SDG 5 targets and indicators. The women’s-only forum created a safe space for them to candidly discuss their challenges, opportunities and priorities. A follow-up joint thematic forum was then organised to bring the men in the community and local leaders on board, raising awareness among them on SDG 5 and including them in the Lanet Umoja gender committee.

Subsequent meetings focused on data literacy, clarifying contentious issues: such as unpaid care and domestic work, and demonstrating the importance of SDG 5 indicators in measuring progress. Datashift further involved the community in developing the gender citizen-generated data collection methodology and tools. In October 2016, the gender citizen-generated data collection tools were uploaded to mobile phones and distributed to women leaders. The women were trained to use the mobile phones to collect the data – this data collection is currently underway. The data will be available on an online dashboard, visualising it as information the community can use to power campaigns and advocacy.

Challenges

Many lessons can be learned from the community engagements and gender citizen-generated data in Lanet Umoja. Some targets were more relevant than others depending on the magnitude of the problem within the community. Some targets had to be domesticated or further expanded to address emerging issues and to ensure the data captures the reality on the ground. And the community was also more interested in indicators they could do something about. Furthermore, gender equality is still largely perceived as a women’s-only issue.

Another challenge is access to classified official data to complement data generated by communities. This makes it difficult to understand wider trends and what the government is doing on this agenda and therefore hold it to account.

From the perspective of DataShift, mainstreaming gender in sub-national government policy, practice, and service delivery will be critical for targeted interventions, which meet the specific needs of women and girls at the lowest levels of the community. It’s now widely acknowledged that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is a precondition for the achievement of the SDGs, however this requires good quality, timely, and accurate gender data, in addition to partnerships and relentless efforts on all fronts.

DataShift’s work on using community-generated data on gender for delivering the SDG 5 continues to explore opportunities and challenges through applied research, collaboration and partnership development and policy engagement, outreach and advocacy primarily in Kenya and Tanzania, and in other DataShift pilot countries – Nepal and Argentina.

This article was first published on 7 December 2016 on the Open Data Institute website under the title “Global gender goals: achieving local impact”. The original article can be uploaded from: https://theodi.org/blog/global-gender-goals-achieving-local-impact

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