The Utility of Cross-Sector Gender Data Linkages for Inclusive Development Outcomes in Africa

Over the years, Africa has adopted a raft of development frameworks that have highly influenced its development agenda. Such frameworks include Agenda 2063 at the regional level, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) at the global level, and country national development plans. Agenda 2063 encapsulates Africa’s normative vision of structural transformation grounded in a common cultural identity and the overarching principle of sustainable development. At the global level, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was designed to balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental with the ultimate objective of leaving no one behind in the quest for development. 

Whereas ensuring sustainability and reducing all forms of inequality in development has been at the nexus of these development plans, gender inequalities are still persistent in Africa. This can be attributed to among other factors, the lack of gender data on key aspects such as natural resources, government operations, public services, and population demographics. Implementation of initiatives that inform and drive inclusive and sustainable socio-economic development in Africa is highly dependent on the availability and use of data and evidence for development. The availability of high-quality development data has been highlighted by the proponents of Evidence-Informed Decision Making (EIDM) as the foundation for meaningful policy-making, effective public service delivery, and efficient resource allocation. This is even more crucial when handling development challenges that are interconnected such as gender inequality.  

Gender inequality is often intersecting in nature manifesting across various spheres and sectors. As such, to develop sustainable responses to gender equality challenges on the continent, collected data needs to reflect the interconnectedness of challenges that perpetuate gender equality gaps. Stakeholders and policymakers need to develop responses that reflect the linkages between different sectors that impact gender equality outcomes. One-dimensional/sector-based gender data could help give insight into gender equality gaps, but intersectoral gender data presents an opportunity to make linkages across different sectors in order to sustainably respond to the challenges faced by women and girls in Africa.

For instance, while there are multiple successful use cases of agriculture data supporting better development outcomes for women and girls in Africa, it is impossible to implement inclusive and sustainable outcomes in agriculture without thinking about sustainable energy and climate change. 

Making linkages between multiple sectors could therefore hold the key to better understanding the interconnectedness of challenges facing women and girls and developing more robust responses to them. This can only be done when intersectoral gender data is collected, shared and used by stakeholders. The collection, publication and use of intersectoral gender data, provides an opportunity for better application of gender data to development challenges. When this data forms the basis for decision making, it informs the roll out of inclusive and sustainable development outcomes across Africa that respond to the needs of women and girls.

As part of efforts to support the collection, publication, and use of gender data in Africa, The Local Development Research Institute (LDRI) through its Africa Open Data Fellowship 2020-2021, will roll out data for development study. The study seeks to surface evidence on what it takes to make available and use data and evidence to respond to development challenges facing women and girls at the nexus and intersection of nutrition, energy access, and agriculture with case studies from the continent. You can follow this work by signing up to the Africa Open Data Network (AODN) newsletter here.

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