How can think tanks support the production and use of gender data?

[This working paper was published as part of the Working Paper Series.]


Better data on women and girls’ status can guide policies, leverage financial resources, and inform global priorities. In most policy circles, the notion of gender data is directly associated with the availability of sex-disaggregated data. While there is no denying that sex-disaggregated data has value and provides insights on the differentiated challenges that women and men face, not all data, nor data by itself, can always accurately portray the complexity of gender inequality in different contexts. Several questions need to be addressed to ensure that gender data offers the right perspectives to fight gender inequality: Is the data used to build indicators and measurement tools fit for purpose? Are gender biases and damaging preconceptions about women and girls’ roles and needs shaping data collection and analysis? What are other aspects of women’s lives not being accounted for through existing gender data? This paper reviews current debates on gender data from a feminist perspective to identify potential limitations of the data used for policymaking and identify possible ways to strengthen it. Using the concept of the data value chain, the paper brings attention to often-overlooked limitations that emerge when gender data is gathered, interpreted, and used. It also analyses the potential role of think tanks in each of these phases. Think tanks, as knowledge generators, brokers, and policy influencers, are particularly well-positioned to bridge the gender data gap.