With rigorous economic research and practical policy solutions, we focus on the issues and institutions that are critical to global development. Explore our core themes and topics to learn more about our work.
In timely and incisive analysis, our experts parse the latest development news and devise practical solutions to new and emerging challenges. Our events convene the top thinkers and doers in global development.
Tanvi Jaluka is the program coordinator for the Gender and Development team, supporting the work of Mayra Buvinic and Charles Kenny. Previously, Jaluka spent time in the Netherlands working with the Center for Frugal Innovations in Africa to conduct research on women’s economic empowerment in Malawi. She also has a background in social justice activism at the Vassar College Women’s Center where she mobilized programming around gender and LGBTQ+ rights. Jaluka earned her BA in International Studies and Economics from Vassar College, focusing much of her undergraduate research on women’s financial inclusion in South Asia. She is fluent in Hindi.
For the third year running, CGD just co-hosted Girl Summit DC. Since 2014, the annual event has drawn together hundreds of researchers, practitioners, advocates, and government representatives to explore how to improve the lives of adolescent girls. These discussions have helped galvanize action from domestic and international policymakers. Again this year, we discussed solutions capable of affecting real change in girls’ lives—and opportunities for the next US administration to build upon its previous efforts and strengthen its commitment to girls in low- and middle-income countries.
Joyce Banda: “Initiations take place between ages seven and ten.”
Former president of Malawi and CGD distinguished visiting fellow Joyce Banda opened the discussion by urging listeners to think about the constraints facing girls even before they reach adolescence. She explained how the lives of girls and boys differ from an early age—and the harmful consequences of that reality. When households cater to boys first in nutrition, maternal care, and economic investment, girls are already left behind before they reach the classroom. President Banda called for the US government to create partnerships with leaders on the ground and increase efforts to better understand and combat harmful traditional practices and social norms:
We need context-specific, data-driven interventions.
Later, in keeping with the theme of this year’s International Day of the Girl (Girls’ Progress = Goals’ Progress: What Counts for Girls), the panelists turned the conversation to persistent gender data gaps. Population Council’s Thoai Ngo pointed to rigorous data collection as a necessary part of reaching the most vulnerable girls and effectively scaling up grassroots programs to the national level. ICRW’s Suzanne Petroni explained the need for evidence-based, context-specific interventions that take into consideration the broader social constraints girls face:
Mary Beth Goodman: Advancing gender equality “isn’t charity—it is vital to our national security.”
During the second half of the summit, panelists provided strategic recommendations for the next presidential administration. This included the need for an executive order which would give the new adolescent girls strategy the full force of law. Further, developing robust, outcome-based indicators would ensure that this implementation be tracked properly and future policy be guided by rigorous evidence. The National Security Council’s Mary Beth Goodman explained that keeping girls and women on the presidential agenda is vital for integrated development and national security. Like the panelists before her, she also pointed to the need for better data:
To further national and global progress on improving the lives of girls, our efforts must be rooted in robust research and a commitment to keep girls at the center of the policy agenda. Most importantly, we must continue to devise and test innovative solutions that have a “whole-of-girl approach”: policies that account for girls' differentiated circumstances from birth to adulthood.
Gender data is essential to understanding the impacts of development programs on people’s lives, enabling us to invest in interventions that are proven to be effective while avoiding unintended consequences. IATI has the potential to play an important role in improving both the reporting and the use of gender data, but there are some hurdles left to overcome before it can do so. Check out workshop participants’ recommendations below.
But first, why exactly do we need gender data?
We can only make women’s lives better if data is available to provide the most accurate picture of the issues that affect them. Data is critical to determining the size and nature of social and economic inequalities, their causes, and solutions. Unfortunately, gender data is often only available for indicators related to mortality, violence and sexual health, and education. About 80% of countries produce sex-disaggregated data in these areas, but less than a third have sex-disaggregated data on economic outcomes related to informal employment, entrepreneurship, and unpaid work.
Without disaggregated, individual-level data, it’s hard to know the true impact of a program or intervention. For example, in an MCC program aimed at farmers in Burkina Faso, implementers on the ground were hired to train "households." Because MCC collected sex-disaggregated data, implementers discovered quickly that mostly men were recruited to represent their households, and women weren’t being trained. Data aggregated at the household level would have obscured this reality.
How can IATI help?
Developing and donor countries alike face enormous challenges documenting and obtaining reliable and current information about aid projects, which prevents them from allocating their resources effectively. The collection and publication of sex-disaggregated data lags even farther behind; as a result, we often have no data (or bad data) on issues that disproportionately affect women and girls. IATI seeks to improve aid transparency and data availability by encouraging stakeholders to publish their data in one portal, allowing easy and efficient access for all.
Development Gateway has demonstrated how IATI data can be used to inform programming, partner coordination, and resource allocation. In collaboration with MCC, Development Gateway used data housed on the IATI platform to see if programs aimed at farmers were reaching men and women equally. With this data, MCC was able to track the targeting of their nutrition training programs, allowing implementers to see how many men versus women were reached through trainings and if girls and boys experienced the same health benefits as a result.
What are the barriers to take-up?
IATI provides accessible, comparable, and timely information on aid flows, but there’s still a long way to go before it’s a perfect source for gender data. Only 16% of activities reported through IATI are currently flagged with the "gender marker," and it’s unclear what the marker’s usage means, depending on who’s reporting. Moreover, only 50,000 out of the 625,742 daily reported activities include results, indicating that programs are not systematically collecting outcome data.
While governments and larger institutions likely have the capacity to integrate IATI reporting into their regular operations relatively seamlessly, smaller grassroots organizations may lack this capacity. Without a clear case for cost effectiveness and long-term benefits, it’s hard to get institutions to make a commitment to adjust their data reporting procedures. Providing incentives—and the assurance that the platform will be a "publish once, use often" system—may help in this regard.
The workshop attendees and panelists suggested a number of solutions to (1) further improve IATI’s ability to house quality gender data and (2) encourage greater take-up of the platform. Here are a few of them:
Standardize definitions and reporting indicators: Development actors have yet to agree on a universal set of definitions and standard indicators that should be used in data collection efforts. Creating universal standards for indicators related to gender equality will make reporting easier for data producers and cross-donor comparisons easier for data users.
Make platforms more user-friendly: IATI is a new platform for most, so increasing participation will likely require both awareness-raising and capacity-building. IATI’s current technical assistance efforts should be made as accessible as possible—and provide for the option of tailored assistance.
Use carrots and sticks: IATI reporting (and the collection of gender data more broadly) should become a necessary part of what bidding organizations must account for when submitting proposed budgets through procurement channels. Institutions should also be rewarded for using IATI to report comprehensively, particularly on outputs and outcomes.
Good gender data is essential for making evidence-based policy decisions and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. To ensure that development is both inclusive and sustainable, we must have a gender data revolution, and IATI can play an important role in getting us there.