Author: Don Obrien

Making gender financing more transparent – World

This report was researched and written by Jamie Holton and Henry Lewis, and reviewed by Alex Farley-Kiwanuka and Sally Paxton.


There is a global consensus that addressing gender equality and empowering women and girls is a critical step in significantly improving development outcomes. Countries and donors have pledged to increase investments to address gender equality through their commitments to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Achieve gender equality and empower women and girls. Since the adoption of the SDGs, further global initiatives have emerged and resources have been mobilized, creating a diverse range of initiatives and funding flows targeting gender equality. As such, tracking gender financing helps to understand progress towards these global gender equality initiatives and the impact of targeted funding. Yet despite commendable efforts, it remains difficult for gender equality stakeholders to trace this funding. If it is unclear who is spending what, where, and to what effect to address gender inequality, we risk only seeing a portion of the picture.

With so much still to be done to eradicate extreme poverty and social inequality, and with the role of women and girls so central to this, we cannot afford to overlook, nor underestimate, the contribution of women and girls everywhere. Meeting the SDG targets will require transparent information, particularly at the country level, in order to direct (or redirect) funding, coordinate, and address the funding gaps, and to hold donors and governments accountable to their gender equality commitments.

This report is the final output of our Gender Financing Project that assesses the transparency of gender financing. Friends of Publish What You Fund and Publish What You Fund previously assessed the availability and quality of gender financial and programmatic information for Kenya, Nepal, and Guatemala. We have since conducted additional research on the availability of humanitarian, philanthropic, and Development Finance Institution (DFI) gender financing. To build on donors and data platforms’ important efforts to make information about international donors’ funded gender equality initiatives more transparent, this report presents common barriers that prevent gender equality stakeholders in all three countries from accessing high quality data. Through consultation with key gender equality donors, data platforms, and gender and data experts, this report offers actionable recommendations for donors and data platforms to address these issues at the global level.

Our report suggests that donors and data platforms can improve the transparency of gender financing by enhancing three components:

  • Data capacity: The inaccessibility of data is repeatedly identified as a real barrier to better data use and to understand decision-making around the allocation of gender financing. By ensuring gender equality stakeholders’ sustained access to open, user-friendly data, and necessary data resources (funding, time, technology, and data literacy) they are more likely to collect, use, and contribute to better gender financing data and ultimately development outcomes.

  • Data engagement: Publishing gender financing data is only a first step. Actively engaging with data users to understand their needs, to provide feedback loops, and to provide constructive avenues for inputs on priorities and programs will help build trust, improve use of data, and increase local ownership.

  • Data quality: Although there have been advances in data quality, continued improvements in the comprehensiveness, comparability, and timeliness of gender financing data will make it more likely to be useful to—and thus used by—gender equality stakeholders.

These improvements can help all relevant gender equality stakeholders’ awareness of ongoing gender equality efforts, inform program design, facilitate consultations to (re)allocate funding to effective initiatives, and ultimately to promote SDG 5 and other development outcomes.

Key recommendations for donors and data platforms to increase data capacity, foster better engagement with data users, and improve the quality of gender financing data

International donors • See Checklist A for all donor recommendations

  • Recommendation 1: Significantly increase the amount of multi-year, core funding for national and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), women’s rights organizations (WROs), and feminist movements to increase their data capacity.

  • Recommendation 2: Engage and share decision-making power with (potential) data users, particularly national and local NGOs, WROs, and feminist movements, in the entire data cycle of a gender equality project.

  • Recommendation 3: Mark your funding against relevant gender markers. In particular, mark development and philanthropic funding against the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) Gender Equality Policy Marker, mark humanitarian funding against the Gender with Age Marker (GAM), and mark 2X Challenge investments accordingly. Publish assigned gender marker scores consistently to all relevant open data platforms (where applicable, alongside other gender marker scores).

Data platforms • See Checklist B for all data platform recommendations

  • Recommendation 1: Offer clear guidance for data users to access, understand, visualize, and safely publish gender financing data. Work with gender equality stakeholders to understand in which formats they would like this guidance and data (e.g., multiple languages, with metadata, in CSV/Excel formats and simplified, engaging formats such as videos, infographics, or visuals).

  • Recommendation 2: Encourage publishing organizations and your own staff to engage with local partners to share decision-making power, understand their specific gender financing data needs, reporting requirements, and capacity and resource limitations.

  • Recommendation 3: Encourage greater consistency in the use of available gender markers by clearly linking to resources on how reporting donors can apply them to their funding and how markers compare, and by working with publishers to make underlying documentation publicly available to explain their assigned gender marker scores.

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Oliver Bolt

Oliver Bolt

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