Gates Foundation to invest R1.2b to close data gap

Gates Foundation to invest R1.2b to close data gapSouth Africa has the highest HIV infections rate among adolescent new adolescent girls

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will invest about R1.2 billion in the next three years to enable countries to count women and girls, and generate crucial data on hundreds of thousands of women around the world.

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data gap

According to Melinda Gates, the world lacks data on women for 80 percent of the targets under Sustainable Development Goal 5 to increase gender equality (File photo)

Foundation Co-chair Melinda Gates announced the investment yesterday at the Women Deliver 2016 Conference in Copenhagen. With more than 5,000 attendees, the meeting is being billed as the largest international conference on the health and rights of women and girls in the last decade.

[quote float= right]We need to know where and when women are born…how many hours they work, if they get paid…”

According to Gates, better data will mean better policymaking that will respond to the needs of women and children, many of whom currently remain uncounted in official statistics.

“We need to know where and when women are born,” she told Health-e News. “We need to know how many hours they work (and) we need to know whether they get paid.”

“We need to collect the data if we’re going to know how to act on the data,” Gates said. “We cannot close the gender gap if we don’t first close the data gap.”

In 2015, the world introduced its latest round of international development targets, the Sustainable Development Goals, which include goals like expanding access to education, health, and water and sanitation.

According to Gates, the lack of data on women and girls means the world has no real way of knowing how far it has to go to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 5 on gender equality.

Australia Ambassador for Women and Girls Natasha Stott Despoja said that without a significant investment in collecting data on women and girls, the world had little hope of realising the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Cathy Russell congratulated Gates on the announcement.

“There’s a clear call in the gender community that we need more data,” Russell said. “We need more refined data (and) we need more disaggregated data.”

“If advocacy for women and girls is about giving voice to the voiceless then gathering and analysing data is about bringing visibility to the invisible,” Gates added. – Health-e News