Gender data, and the lack thereof, has become an important topic for the feminist and development sector as the power of data and the recognition of its potential continue to grow. The GC is part of this movement, and as far as we can confirm, it is the first study of its kind specifically poised to provide value to the Global Acceleration Plans for Gender Equality. The GC’s merit comes from the amount and demographic diversity of participants—a current total of 31,600 women and gender-diverse people from 173 countries—and also the breadth and depth of questions asked.
Over the past few years, the development community has consciously acknowledged gaps in data on women and gender-diverse people. UN Women, the Equal Measures Data Hub and the work of Data2x have expressed a need for better data collection on the Sustainable Development Goals, and have advocated for strengthened data collection and better use of gendered data within decision-making bodies. However, the problem persists: there is still a lack of grassroots collection that gives respondents agency over funding and policy-making decisions that impact them.
A January 2021 report by Focus 2030 and Women Deliver studied what people think about gender inequality. The survey reveals that across all countries, the global public unanimously supports gender equality and a resounding majority is ready for their governments to take action to address it through political and financial measures. This research is important in painting a picture of the necessity of the GEF, and in securing support for the GEF’s plans.
However, a 2019 report, Women’s Assessments of Gender Equality, shows that there is disparity between what women want and what feminist activists think women want, further highlighting the need for bottom up approaches to data collection that focus on ordinary women and gender-diverse people. With the GC, women across the globe are given a platform to describe issues that are critical to them, what they believe are the greatest barriers to progress, and the organisations they rely on for support. Importantly, the purpose of the GC is to ensure that women and gender-diverse people’s perspectives are represented and inform activists, governments, and NGOs that come together at the GEF.
These studies underscore the need, and set the stage for the GC. In turn, the GC provides a foundation for how data collection of this breadth can be done at scale and should be used as an accountability mechanism for any major gender agendas like the actions set to come out of the GEF.