Hosted by the U.S. Department of State and Gallup | [Note: A fact sheet on the event is available here.]
MS. MILLS: Good morning, everyone. It is great to see everyone here and great to see this room so wonderfully packed for such an exciting event. My name is Cheryl Mills, and I’m Counselor and Chief of Staff to the Secretary at the State Department, and we are just thrilled to be here. We’re most particularly thrilled to be here to talk a little bit about how we close the gender data gap. And I know for a girl like me, I don’t know if it ever gets much better than that. (Laughter.) Why not, right? This is the best thing we could be talking about. I’d like to particularly take a moment to thank Jim Clifton and Gallup for inviting us all here today and for co-sponsoring this event with the State Department.
Now as many of you all know, an increasing number of individuals, businesses, and organizations, including many who are represented here today, have joined the growing effort to capture and analyze data on people in just about every sector, in every community, on every continent here in the world. Today, we gather and track everything from income to vaccination rates to Facebook pages and messages – of which I’m not on Facebook and I own that proudly. (Laughter.) And where we have data, we can and we do build better programs, better policies, and sometimes in the case of business, better marketing to actually reach all levels of society.
So this morning, you’re going to hear from Secretary Hillary Clinton and World Bank President Jim Kim and other leaders and experts about how and why investing in gender-sensitive data is critical not only to advancing the status of women and girls, but also to ensuring we make smart investments that promote smart economics, smart political decisions, and smart social growth decisions.
I certainly stand here today as a beneficiary of how and why data matters. In this country, my ancestors were not originally counted, other than as property. And certainly, when the Constitution – when it came to deciding how congressional representatives would be picked, we were counted only as three-fifths of a person. Of course, over the evolution of this great country, I came to be fully counted, and more particularly, data came to be collected and analyzed about my community that was essential to advancing the status and the opportunities of African Americans and so many others in this country. So of course, I’m biased, but I think data really does matter. And I think it’s a smart thing to do. And of course, closing the gender gap is also a very smart thing to do when it comes to data.
Now we are especially delighted that Jim Kim is here today, during his first month at the World Bank. He is here to talk a little bit about his vision for gender equity, development, and data. He has long been a champion of collecting and deploying data in smart ways to impact – to increase the impact of programs and investments and policies for men and women. He’s done it also for boys and girls. And he’s done it, starting with his time at Partners In Health, where he helped to develop the first large-scale treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis in the developing world, to the World Health Organization at Harvard Medical School, where he applied performance assessment principles to health programs, including child vaccinations and HIV/AIDS treatment.
At the State Department and at USAID, in our work with governments around the world, we have actually seen the power of data to shape public policy. Today’s government officials, whether or not they are ministers of finance or ministers of development, whether or not they are in developed or developing nations, they are all increasingly relying on data and on analysis to help establish our priorities, our policies, and to create smarter and better programs. To create the best policies and to capitalize on the potential of men and women alike, we need to ensure that the information that animates our work actually captures all of the population, especially that half of the population that’s often missing: women. We’re here because the data tells us that investments in women and girls and gender equality benefits all of society, all of communities, and that too often, when we have gaps in the data, we don’t deploy it the way in which we could.
So part of what we want to ensure is that our investments actually are maximizing our efforts to promote economic, political, and social growth. To do that, we have to fill the gaps. So let’s begin filling the gaps today.
It’s now my pleasure to introduce Jim Clifton, CEO and President of Gallup. (Applause.)
MR. CLIFTON: Thank you, Cheryl. Madam Secretary, thank you. It’s a big highlight for us. Dr. Jim Kim, thank you for coming over. By the way, I just learned in here that he was a student of my late father’s. So I’m going to keep an eye on him and make sure that you’ve turned out alright.
Distinguished guests – and we have a lot of friends from the State Department and from the World Bank and to the whole Gallup tribe, welcome. It’s great to have you here. I want to say a special thanks to John Hope Bryant, the CEO of Operation Hope. We have a project we’re working really hard with data gaps on youth. And Johnny Taylor, the CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund; we have a very special relationship here with Gallup. And I’d better thank Roy Spence (ph) because we wouldn’t have all gotten together if it wasn’t for you. So I appreciate it very much. You guys – thank all three of you so much for what you do for our country.
I got to read this to you because I’ve spent my whole life doing the same job. But the purpose of this event is to increase the production of gender-sensitive data. I guess I’m looking at a lot of fellow nerds out there or you wouldn’t have come; you must be here just to see the Secretary and the President – (laughter) – increase the production of gender-sensitive data and the gaps.
But I just wanted to – I want to try to land one point. Let’s just say I handed out a blank sheet of paper and I gave you all a real sharp pencil, and I said I want you to do a quick essay; I’m going to give you 10 minutes, and what you need to answer is: What do 3.5 billion women want? So you’ve got to write. But here’s the thing. You’ve got to describe it mathematically or I’m not going to count it. And here’s what you could do. A whole bunch of us, we can just write down what everybody bought, we can – how many cars they bought, how many babies they had, when they were born, when they died – so we have a huge archive on that. But if I said, “I know, but I want to know what they’re thinking; I want to know what they want,” that’s what a data gap looks like because we’ll have blank sheets of paper.
By the way, that’s better than everybody handing in different premises. I’m going to try to land this. Because if you imagine what women are thinking, and girls, and you’re wrong, the more you and I go out and lead, the worse we make the world. But that’s why data is important, and that’s why gaps are important, and that’s why we’ve got to make sure that we have the right data and that we have the right premises so when we go out we do make the world better.
By the way, we’ve made a 100-year commitment to interviewing on an ongoing basis in 160 countries, which gives you a representation of 98 percent of the people. We’re doing that for 100 years. Now remember, you can crosstab that by women. So you if you said are women suffering, struggling, thriving; do they have fear in their lives; do they want to become entrepreneurs; do they want to invent something; what is it that they want? I want to mathematically describe that so I can chart that like a stock price. Now we’re going to be able to do that.
By the way, I want to try to answer the puzzle. Do you know, if you said what do 3.5 billion women want, you know what the best answer is? I want you to just think what. I’m going to give you the right answer. Because you might be thinking, well, they want to pray the God that they want, they want freedom; they want safety. They don’t. What they really want is a good job. Not just a job; they actually want a good job. But see, if you have that premise wrong, all the stuff that we do together from this meeting will make the place worse. Everything’s got to tie back to that.
But the word “good” is real important right in there because they don’t just want an informal job. As a matter of fact, an informal job is actually worse than having no job. What they want – and they don’t really want a formal job; they want a good job. But if you want to see human development, human development lies in giving a woman a great job. And a great job means that they have a manager that cares about their development. I bet that was in your teaching. They want a place where their opinion counts. But a real big one is that they want a job that uses their strengths and their strengths develop. But that’s so important because if you said, where does human development lie? I think women just told us.
By the way, that might sound subtle to some of you; I don’t know. It changes everything, because when I’m a woman, whether I’m in Ethiopia or Kansas City, and the thing I’m thinking about is how do I get a good job, everything in the world changes. When I get married changes, a lot or if I get married at all. If I have – how many children I have, whether I have 11 or 1, or if I have children at all. Because when the will of 3.5 million women changes, so does everything else.
I want to switch real fast, John, to what you and I have been working on. But we’ve been wondering, Madam Secretary, about what girls are thinking in the United States. By the way, there’s 15 million kids in high school right now, almost 8 million girls. And so we want to know what the will of those girls were. But this is so important. This is a data gap. Nobody knows this. This is the first time this has ever been released. We asked them, how many of you want to start a business? The answer is 44 percent. That’s been a data gap, but it’s a data gap we shouldn’t have because we didn’t know that there were that – that’s a lot of women. But it also could create GDP growth. But that’s also entrepreneurship. And regardless of what you read, see, or hear, entrepreneurship is the only thing that’s going to bring our country back. But the solution might lie just within those girls.
We also ask them – we said, “I will invent something that changes the world.” There’s a lot of hope in that question. And with women, that’s 40 percent. But see, there’s enough hope, economic energy, and innovation energy in the schools right now. That’s been a data gap. We’ve got to watch that. But here’s the point: We said to those girls, how many of you are in internships or being mentored on innovation? That answer is only 4 percent. So what it means is so many of the things that we’re doing, we’ve got our premises wrong, so we’re out there managing those girls, but the more we manage, the more we slow the damn thing down.
So if you’re going to take one thing away from that kind of rambling, is the reason that data collection and identification of gaps is important is we have to be right. Because of all the billions we’re going to spend, all the strategies we’re going to do, we can’t have a whole bunch of arguments and disagreements because the more we’re right, the more we’ll experience human development.
So once again, thank you very much. It’s great to have you here. Now, please welcome President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Kim. (Applause.)
MR. KIM: Good morning, everyone. Madam Secretary, Jim Clifton, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure to be here today to address one of the key challenges of the 21st century: achieving gender equality. I share a deeply held conviction that gender equality counts for societies and economies to make progress. It counts because it’s the right and fair thing to do. Simply put, a person’s opportunities should not be determined by whether they are born male or female. It also counts because gender equality is vital for growth and competitiveness of countries. When countries value girls and women as much as boys and men, when they invest in their health, education, and skills training, when they give women greater opportunities to participate in the economy, manage incomes, own and run businesses, the benefits extend far beyond individual girls and women to their children and families, to their communities, to societies and economies at large.
Just look at some of the numbers. Women make up 40 percent of the global workforce and 43 percent of the agricultural workforce. Across the developing world, there are 8-to-10 million formal and small, medium-sized women-owned businesses. And those numbers are growing. Today, women are more than half the world’s university students. In a third of developing countries, there are now more girls in school than boys. Evidence shows that when women have greater control over household funds or agricultural resources, it can have significant payoffs.
In Brazil, for example, when family income goes into the hands of the mother rather than the father – I know this from personal experience – a child’s chance of survival is 20 times greater. In Ghana, ensuring that women farmers have the same access as men to fertilizer and other agricultural inputs would increase maize yields by 17 percent.
So this isn’t just about giving women more resources; it’s about giving women their fair share. It’s about giving half the population the opportunity to lead better and more productive lives, and at the same time raise productivity and prosperity, break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, make institutions more representative, and advance development prospects for everyone.
At a time when the world’s looking for additional sources of growth, there’s an untapped market out there that everyone should invest more in – women. At the World Bank, we’re promoting gender equality through financing. This past fiscal year, over 80 percent of the Bank’s lending and grants, more than $28 billion, was allocated to gender in foreign projects in areas such as education, health, land rights, access to credit, financial and agricultural services, jobs, and infrastructure.
We’re also supporting gender equality through knowledge and analysis. We’re generating new ideas, testing new approaches, evaluating systematically what sorts of interventions really work. We made gender equality the subject of our 2012 World Development Report. The report makes clear that one of the fundamental challenges for tackling all these issues is more and better data and evidence. Before we can solve a problem, we need to understand it. We need to be able to evaluate systematically what sorts of interventions work, which don’t, and why.
But data and evidence are also important to make visible the lives of women and girls. This – their experiences can teach us so much, but only if they are counted. For many developing countries, we don’t have the data to help us understand just how big these gender gaps are or how to address them. It simply doesn’t exist. This is a particular problem when looking at women’s economic opportunity. Take agriculture, a hugely important sector for women, particularly in poor countries. If you want to compare how many women in different Sub-Saharan African countries use fertilizer to help grow their vegetables in order to evaluate where best to target scarce development funds, sorry, there’s no information for that.
Part of the challenge of collecting sufficient data is methodology. Many surveys, including at the World Bank, address households but not women’s opportunities specifically. In addition, many national statistical agencies in developing countries lack the resources and know-how to gather more data. And then there’s the greater challenge of strengthening countries’ systems, as experienced in my own work on maternal health. Even seemingly simple data such as births and deaths can sometimes be difficult to capture. Basic indicators like maternal mortality remain underreported because too many women in poor countries never come into contact with health facilities or official statistical systems.
So how do we start to close the gender gap – the gender data gap? First, we need to work together. We’re partnering with the United States Government, UN Women, and the OECD on the Evidence and Data for Gender Equality Initiative, to push existing efforts for comparable gender indicators on education, employment, entrepreneurship, and assets.
Second, we need to invest in gathering new data and evidence. For example, in April the World Bank Group and Gallup presented findings from the Global Financial Inclusion Index, a new joint project with support from the Gates Foundation. It’s the first public database that consistently measures how men and women in 148 countries are engaging in financial activities – saving, borrowing, making payments, and managing risk. The World Bank Group has established Women, Business, and the Law, a global database which tracks and measures legal and regulatory constraints to women’s financial access.
Third, we need to be open and transparent about what we know and what we don’t know. It’s the best way to determine the gaps in our knowledge and to fill them.
Finally, if we are to make significant and lasting change, we need to direct the data back towards developing countries. By making country data accessible, we can help empower men and women in the real world to become agents of change. This is important because it’s only with sufficient country demand for better gender equality that we will ultimately succeed.
That’s why I’m excited to announce today that the World Bank is – excuse me – is launching a new Gender Data Portal, part of our Open Data Initiative. Visitors to the Gender Data Portal will be able to access data from the world development indictors, national statistics agencies, and UN databases. You’ll find results from surveys, analytic work, and reference materials covering girls’ and women’s employment, access to productive activities, education, health, public life, and decision making – also human rights and demographic outcomes. The portal’s data visualization tool allows users to interact with the data and will keep it updated and respond to feedback. It’s an important step forward, bringing together the multiplicity of data sources on gender and allowing anyone with an internet connection to see how patterns are evolving across countries and regions over time.
As part of the World Bank’s broader Open Data Initiative, visitors will be able to access a whole range of data on bank operations and financing so they can access the latest figures on our own performance on gender mainstreaming and hold us to account.
When you visit our new site, you’ll also see that there are appalling gaps in country coverage and frequency. You won’t find data on gender wage gaps in developing countries because comparable data doesn’t exist across developing countries. You won’t find enough data measuring women’s voice in agency beyond women’s representation in national parliaments. There are bits and pieces but the gaps are still huge.
Today, let’s commit to moving forward on making women count. One year from now, let’s commit to seeing progress in data availability in two areas: women’s economic opportunities and women’s voice in agency for at least 10 countries where the data is currently missing. We’ll need to make greater efforts and investments in building statistical capacity in those countries to collect the relevant data. We will need to focus on strengthening country systems too. When we succeed in those 10 countries, we’ll expand our efforts to 10 more countries, and then 10 more, ever more quickly.
I’m very excited to be working with the U.S. State Department and Gallup, who do such great work in this area and are so committed to closing the gender data gap. Together, we’re calling on more development partners to support countries in this effort.
Before I hand the podium over, please let me pay tribute to the next speaker for her tireless efforts for gender equality across the world. Secretary Clinton staked her claim as an advocate for global women’s issues a long time ago. In 1995, as First Lady, she gave a speech at a UN conference in Beijing that many of us still make reference to today. She said that women’s rights are human rights and that every woman deserves the chance to realize her own God-given potential, but we must recognize that women will never gain full dignity until their human rights are respected and protected. These are powerful words that helped galvanize a global movement for women’s rights. They are no less relevant today.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank Secretary Clinton because I wouldn’t be here today without you. Thank you so much. (Laughter and applause.)
I’m pleased that so many thinkers and leaders in this field are here today. You’ve just heard from one of them, Dr. Jim Kim, the new President of the World Bank, and we’re so pleased that he’s in this position; Cheryl Mills, my chief of staff and counselor at the State Department who has really driven this process forward inside the State Department; and so many of you who are here with us today – all the panelists who will participate in today’s discussion and everyone who will leave here committed to following through on what we have said.
Now, I am sure when you received an invitation to a conference on data -- (laughter) -- you probably thought, “Oh, boy, how exciting.” But I think you would agree, even having just heard from the prior three speakers, this really is an exciting time for data, because we are living in the midst of a data revolution. Massive amounts of information are being shared faster, through more channels, and reaching more people in more places than ever. Now, globally, Twitter users generate 340 million tweets every day. And some of you are probably tweeting as I speak right now. (Laughter.) Remember, it is #gendergap. (Laughter.) Companies around the world catalog billions and billions of customer transactions in a matter of minutes. Governments crunch census data to determine the makeup, habits, and challenges of entire countries or specific communities.
Some measures suggest the world created as much as 1.8 zettabytes – that was a new term to me – zettabytes of data last year. To put this in perspective, you would need more than 57 billion 32 gig iPads to hold all that information.
But are we just collecting it for the sake of collecting it? Data only becomes valuable when it is organized and put to work. And before we make big decisions – in business, in government, in life – we should do the research, run the numbers. It’s how we minimize risk and maximize impact.
And data are making a huge difference in diplomacy and development already. MIT’s Engineering and Social Systems lab is doing pioneering work modeling the growth of slum areas. For instance, in parts of Africa, they did it by combining data from mobile phone networks with information from the Kenyan census. Now urban planners can use that model to figure out where to install water pumps and toilets so that as many people as possible can use them. Instead of having a powerful person in a slum demand that the toilet be put in a certain place because that’s where he wants it, now you can equip decision makers both locally within the slum itself as well as in local government to be able to say, “But more people will use it if we move it over there.” It sounds like a small thing; it’s revolutionary.
Or take Together for Girls, a public-private partnership the State Department helped build to prevent sexual violence against children. In many places, there is simply no information about how widespread the problem is, so we support collecting data at the national level. In Tanzania, for example it was found that almost 30 percent of girls and over 10 percent of boys have suffered an unwanted sexual experience. The Government of Tanzania then used this data to develop and implement a national plan to prevent violence against children. Concrete action is possible when we understand the scope and scale of a problem.
We keep statistics on everything we care about, from RBIs to ROI, the daily ups and downs of the Dow and our bank accounts. So if we’re serious about narrowing the gender gap and helping more girls and women, then we must get serious about gathering and analyzing the data that tell the tale.
Now, the data already provides strong evidence that demonstrates the links between gender equality and increased prosperity and security. This has been a real focus for us at the State Department. We have been clear from day one that when we’re making the case for elevating the roles of women, we can’t just rely on moral arguments as important and compelling as they might be. We have to make a rigorous case, backed up with solid evidence and data.
Last September at the first ever APEC Women and the Economy Summit in San Francisco, I shared the compelling evidence mostly collected by the World Bank that demonstrates how women jumpstart and then drive economic growth around the world. As I said then, when we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations, and the world. And in these tough economic times, none of us can afford to perpetuate the barriers facing women in the workforce. And you combine that with the information Jim Clifton provided, which is constant through Gallup data that the most important thing to people in the world is a good job with a decent income to support themselves and their families. And leaders and governments around the world have started taking action, because you can’t deny the data.
Now, we’re not just focused on economic growth. In December of last year, I also spoke about the important role that women play in fostering global stability. While more limited than our economic data, there is evidence showing that women make unique contributions during peace negotiation processes. And afterwards, they provide vital support to bring peace agreements to life in local communities and to help build lasting security. All these data went into creating the U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which is our government-wide roadmap for accelerating and institutionalizing our work to bring more women into all aspects of peace building and conflict prevention.
Now, these speeches called for bold ideas, for changing the way we approach business, global stability, economic growth, as well as how we approach diplomacy and development in the 21st century. Today I want to look more closely at how we can use data to inform and shape this work.
As we strive to achieve our foreign policy goals and to advance American global leadership by building peace, promoting democracy, growing economies, we already know that investing in women delivers returns for entire societies. But we are missing critical information to guide our investments better.
As Jim just said, for too many countries we lack reliable and regular data on even the basic facts about the lives of women and girls – facts like when they have their first child, how many hours of paid and unpaid work they do, whether they own the land they farm. And since women make up half the population, that’s like having a black hole at the center of our data-driven universe.
It keeps us from fully realizing how advancing the status of women affects women, their families, their communities, their countries, and the rest of us. And it keeps those of us looking to close the gender gap from getting the most out of our investments from either the public or the private or the not-for-profit sector. Because ultimately data are a means to an end to a more peaceful, prosperous world where women are full participants who, like men, can reach their God-given potential.
And we now have an opportunity we’ve never had before. The technological advances of this century give us a chance to gather unprecedented amounts and types of information that can guide our decisions and help maximize our impact. Now let me hasten to add that we must of course be thoughtful and careful about how we do this and take care to protect the information we collect. We need the data, but we have to respect the rights of the people behind the data. So today I want to talk about the historic opportunity we have to improve the lives of billions of people and what it will take to seize that.
I’ll start with the story of one of my personal heroes: Ela Bhatt, the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association in India. She earned her law degree in the early 1950s at a time when not many women were in the law and certainly not many women in India. She used her degree to work for a local textiles labor union, but the law only granted rights and recognitions to industrialized laborers. All around her, she saw plenty of women doing lots of work in the informal economy.
Ela learned that only 6 percent of women in India were officially counted as employed. And she recognized that the first step to helping women who were obviously very hardworking but invisible to business and government would be to bring their work into public view. Now, one easy way to prove the economic value of women in the informal economy would be to ask them all to take the week off – (laughter) – and just see what happens. But Ela Bhatt had a better idea. She convinced researchers to collect and analyze data about all the work people – mostly women – were actually doing from their homes.
And once the numbers came out, policy makers couldn’t ignore them. And in 1996, thanks in large part to Ela’s leadership, the International Convention on Home Work recognized the rights and contributions of those who work from their homes and established new standards for employment conditions.
Data not only measures progress, it inspires it. As we have learned in this country, what gets measured gets done. Once you start measuring problems, people are more inclined to take action to fix them because nobody wants to end up at the bottom of a list of rankings.
So data are critical on both sides of the question – knowing what to do, and how to do it. And we want to achieve the best outcomes for women and men, girls and boys, because after all, if our investments aren’t helping us meet that goal, we need to change our approach. For example, there is evidence that boys in some countries are falling behind girls in primary school enrollment. Once in secondary school, however, girls are more likely to drop out. With more and better data and analysis, we can understand the nuances that could point us toward more targeted and effective solutions to both problems.
So the question for us and for our work on improving gender equality becomes: What do we know, and perhaps more important, what don’t we know?
The good news is we know more than we used to. For a long time, basic information about women was hiding in plain sight. But thanks to UN agencies, the World Economic Forum, the OECD, the World Bank, international NGOs, and research institutes, we now have a range of tools that are helping us understand the circumstances of women around the world and to quantify the social and economic benefits of gender equality. And today, as you heard, Dr. Kim launched an important addition to our toolkit – a gender data portal that will further sharpen our understanding of the gender gap.
The U.S. Government is also focused on filling in the gaps. Last year, for example, I launched the EDGE initiative – Evidence and Data for Gender Equality – to improve sex-disaggregated data on entrepreneurship and assets in developing countries, two areas where our information is particularly lacking. We also helped launch the OECD’s Gender Initiative, which is gathering data on women in poverty, in science education, in management, and providing a toolbox of policy ideas. Everything we have learned from these new studies paints a picture that is sobering, but also hopeful.
The Human Development Report finds that inequalities between men and women can reduce a country’s overall progress in health, education, and standard of living by up to 85 percent. This points to a tremendous opportunity. Elevating the status of women and girls has been shown to have a positive impact on entire societies. And in country after country, education improves, spending on nutrition and health increases, productivity goes up, economies grow.
Just as investing in women and gender equality has a multiplying effect that brings about positive results for entire societies, investing in collecting and analyzing data on women and gender equality can exponentially increase those benefits.
Now, even with the strong evidence on the benefits of women’s participation in the economy, there are still lots of gaps in our understanding. We know, for example, that 2.3 billion people around the world have access to the internet. We don’t know how many of them are women. That means researchers don’t have data to study how women in developing countries use the internet to educate themselves, to start or run a business, or to find the information they need to tend to the health and well-being of their families.
We also have studies suggesting that eliminating barriers to women’s participation in certain industries or levels of management could increase the productivity of all workers from 3 to 25 percent. That’s a huge range, and it encompasses vastly different countries and any number of economic barriers. For example, what are the barriers in Indonesia, and how are they different from the barriers in Nigeria? More gender-sensitive data and analysis could tell us.
If women farmers had access to the same seeds, equipment, irrigation as men farmers, they could increase their crop yields 20 to 30 percent and feed up to an additional 150 million hungry people. Yet we lack critical information on women’s land use, property rights, and access to seeds and fertilizer. Without the data, it is difficult to address these issues, which means we’re likely leaving much-needed value on the table.
We need more data in areas related to women’s political participation and in their role in peace building. We know how many women sit in national parliaments, but what about local and regional bodies? We have very strong data from India, and some evidence from other countries, that women leaders are more likely to direct spending toward infrastructure related to women’s roles and responsibilities, like better drinking water and sanitation. But we need to learn more about the ways and degree to which greater representation by women influence public spending and public choices, as well as the overall efficiency of the outcomes that are sought.
So we have strong evidence that women play roles in all kinds of things, and in particular in peacekeeping and conflict prevention. They raise issues in these kinds of negotiations, like human rights and human security that are fundamental to forging a lasting and sustainable peace. But we need more internationally comparable data to examine how women’s contributions affect conflict regions. And only then can we really create frameworks for making sure they are included.
Now, such examples as these only scratch the surface. To put it simply, we have neither invested enough in collecting gender-sensitive data nor in quantifying how increasing gender equality yields benefits to societies. So we have to push, not only for more data, but better data – data that illuminates the challenges and opportunities that women and girls face, on their own and relative to men and boys, and their effect on shared stability and prosperity. And we have to ask questions we’ve never asked before and make sure we’re asking them the right way.
To achieve the benefits of this new age of participation, an era when every person on the planet will eventually be connected up in some way, we must find ways to lower the barriers that are still in legal systems, cultural taboos, economic discrimination, educational problems. That will give us a better chance of not only solving the problems but doing so in a sustainable and strategic way. So we are seeking the sufficient information needed to guide us.
Now, this room is filled with experts and researchers and practitioners at the forefront of addressing our data gender gap, and it’s because of many of you that we have made the progress we have seen in the last few years. But we need to keep going and to be champions of the widespread movement for gender-sensitive data. As we fill these gaps, then we have to put the data we collect to use, improving outcomes and creating real changes in people’s lives. So what should be our next steps?
First, let’s dedicate the resources to collect new data, analyze and publish the data we already have. That takes time and commitment, and it does take political will at the highest levels to make gender-sensitive data a priority for donor and partner governments, corporations, foundations, research institutions, and multilateral organizations. It will also take coordination across these groups to ensure the questions we ask, the data we collect, the measures we use are compatible and comparable to each other.
Next, we need to capitalize on 21st century tools for collecting and analyzing information, like behavioral economics, which looks at the social, cognitive, even emotional factors that affect people’s decisions, or the vast amounts of data that social media provide. We must find opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships to harness new technologies and reduce the overall cost of collecting and analyzing data.
And then for our efforts to be sustainable, we need to build the capacity of national statistics bureaus and share with future data scientists and policymakers the value and methods of gender-sensitive data.
So today, I’m pleased to announce a new initiative that will help carry today’s work forward. We’re calling it Data 2X – a symbol of the power women have to multiply progress in their societies. With contributions from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and USAID, Data 2X will develop new curriculum standards to ensure data producers and users train in gender-sensitive techniques. Working with key data organizations, including the UN, World Bank, OECD, PARIS21, and Gallup, the project will also publish a roadmap on how we together can fill priority gaps in gender-sensitive data as quickly as possible. And, in keeping with the spirit of this conference, Data 2X will report on its progress in one year’s time.
I hope this set of commitments, as well as the significant challenges that we are and will be discussing today, inspire others to action as well.
In my time as Secretary of State, I have – as you may have read – traveled a lot of miles and visited many countries. (Laughter.) But it’s not the miles I remember. It’s the people along the way, like the remarkable women who have overcome backbreaking poverty to build communities of their own, or heroes who have refused to buckle or back down in the face of threats and intimidation.
Everything I have done and everything I have learned in my work over the years has convinced me that improving the rights and the status of women is not simply a matter of human dignity, although it certainly is. It is also essential to our shared prosperity and security. We will not be able to move forward on any of our larger strategic goals or improve our security here at home unless we take on the fundamental instability and strife that inequality creates in our world. That’s one of the reasons we have put women at the heart of our foreign policy priorities at the State Department. It’s the right thing to do, and it is also the smart thing to do.
Getting the gender-sensitive data we need is a critical starting point. That will help act as a blueprint for building a better future for us all. It will help move toward finishing the unfinished business of helping more women become full and equal participants in every aspect of society.
I look forward to working with all of you to make that future not only a measurable and quantifiable one but an undeniable reality. There is so much that we can do together. And I thank Gallup, which has been at this business longer than most of us, for reminding us that sometimes our own views and perspectives are not reflective of the aspirations, feelings, and experiences of other people. And one of the great challenges for all of us is to continue to put ourselves in the other’s shoes, to try to walk those miles, here in our own country and certainly around the world. That gives us more insight and empathy and better equips us to make decisions for ourselves and others that will be closer to being right and will stand the test of time.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
I tell my children that you may not believe this, but there was once a day when Secretaries of State were white men. (Laughter.) And that’s not in their life experience – (laughter) – but that used to happen. But now we’ve seen a change, and Secretary Clinton’s life exemplifies that change. And during her remarks today, I was thinking of the title – the book title Invisible Man, with the corollary invisible women who are not being counted, and also the phrase knowledge is power. And so we’re going to talk about that, and we’re going to try to get a little data on how to gather data and what data’s out there that’s exciting.
I’ve spent the last five years of my life with a lot of neuroscientists, who have done a lot of work on gender differences between men and women in the field of cognition. And that (interruption to audio.)
So one experiment done in Germany, they took gauze pads, taped that under people’s arms, had half the people watch a movie – a horror movie and half the people watch a comedy – and had other research subjects, who were presumably well paid, sniff the gauze pads. (Laughter.) Which movie did this person watch? And most people can tell just by the smell, but women were twice as good at men at determining this.
And the second thing we’ve learned is that men are much more overconfident than women. And so – (laughter) --
MS. SLAUGHTER: Gee, we needed a study for that?
MR. BROOKS: Yeah. We need studies for this. (Laughter.) Men drown at twice the rate as women because men have tremendous confidence in their ability to swim after they’ve been drinking. (Laughter.) So we are not going to be overconfident today. We’re going to go right to the data. (Laughter.)
And I am joined at this panel by several experts: Johannes Jutting, who’s the director of PARIS21 Secretariat, which is hosted by the OECD; Ambassador Donald Steinberg, who’s deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; Robert Kirkpatrick, who’s director of UN Global Pulse; Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton and a former director of Policy Planning at the State Department; and Jon Clifton, who is the deputy director of Gallup, our host today.
And I’m going to ask the good news question first. And I’ll start with Johannes, which is what have we learned? What piece of data makes you excited that we’ve learned that’s gender related?
MR. JUTTING: Well, first of all, I would like to say that, as previous speakers have mentioned, we have learned a lot over the last, I would say, 30 years, has been much more interest in the topic of gender at all. When I started 20 years ago, the topic of gender wasn’t as prominent as it is now, and so that’s a great development. I think we have also learned a little about new data in particularly in areas like – linked to employment, education.
For me, personally, the most exciting recent development is that we get all the data on attitudes and on perceptions. I think that has been mentioned, but Jim’s question what do women want? But you can even go a little bit further. You can ask – also what the Secretary of State just mentioned at the end of her speech, talking about what actually is driving outcomes. What actually are perceptions – how do perceptions drive outcomes?
And here, an example is very telling is in terms of – we all know there is, in terms of school enrollment rate for girls, in particular in developing countries, that was – it’s a great problem. Girls drop out of school at around the age of 13 or 14. And what was actually driving this development? Can we build new schools and then take care of the problem? Or can we have better teachers to convince parents to send their daughters still to school? But effectively and through questions like attitudes and behavioral questions, we understood that for, in particular, part of the problem were the school, the way to go to the school, the transport, sanitation issues, toilets. So if you build schools, you have to think about the way – the transportation of girls to the school; you have to think about sanitation. And that may make the impact.
So I think in terms of the greatest thing I’ve learned that understanding outcomes in education, employment, we have to understand social institution, we have to understand traditions, we have to understand the underlying thinking of people. And this will help us to make better decisions also in terms of policy action.
MR. BROOKS: Just when you’re questioning people about attitudes, are there tricks? Are there difficulties in a stranger asking about attitudes about some of these rather personal things? Or is it more straightforward? Or –
MR. JUTTING: I mean, there are a lot of problems with that, absolutely. I mean, the way you ask questions can determine the outcome. The good news, again here, is I think science – social science has made a lot of progress how to ask question to avoid things like hollow effects, saying yes so you just precede the answer.
But let me say one thing more. I think we should go – that’s one tiny part of a bigger thing that I would call social institutions. I, myself, was involved in work understanding the deep determinants of gender equality in developing countries when I worked at the OECD Development Center. So we produced, over the last 10 years, a composite index – what we call the social institution and gender index – trying to understand – link to laws, to traditions, and try to map that for over 120 countries. And the greatest success – because you were asking about success – for me, the greatest success was that it was not only academic work at the end of the day. It started more academic. But last year, the Indian Government decided to test this indicator in a couple of Indian states. So we could convince the Indian Government to look into these kinds of things, and that was making me very happy.
MR. BROOKS: Okay. Donald, similar --
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: I think, for me, the – it’s the cumulative effect of a lot of the data we’ve generated. For people who’ve worked in this area for two, three decades, it’s almost intuitive that we know that the systematic exclusion of women from economic life costs the country in fundamental ways. But there are skeptics out there. And you have to overcome what I call the threshold of credibility. And so to go in, as I have, to the minister of agriculture in Ghana or Ethiopia and say you are leaving 30 percent of the production on the table because you’re not providing access to credit, access to fertilizers, access to even land titling for women, it’s a very powerful tool to be able to do that.
One of the things that we’re doing is focusing on political and economic and social empowerment. And in that regard, to be able to walk in and say to a minister in the DRC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we know what the roots of sexual violence in eastern Congo are, and we have some techniques that can help you address those.
So indeed, I think it’s very useful. The Secretary has used every one of the examples I was going to give. (Laughter.) Actually, that’s not the first time that’s happened to someone who’s followed her. But indeed, to be able to overcome that threshold of credibility – and it’s not just Neanderthal ministers. It’s also being able to go to businesses and say to Coca-Cola, as they have learned themselves, the absence of involving women as entrepreneurs in Africa in your supply chain is really costing you, and have them come up with this 5 by 20 initiative to empower 5 million women entrepreneurs throughout Africa in their supply chains. That’s the importance.
MR. BROOKS: I hope you’ll all jump in, but just to follow up on that: How much of the data provision is supplied by people flying in from Paris, New York, Washington? And how much of it is homegrown, and what’s the difficulty in getting homegrown data?
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: Well, if it is from people coming from abroad, then you’ve lost most of the credibility, because, frankly, what we’ve found is that if you’re using local generators of data, then you get ground truth, you get credibility, you have moral authority. You can ask the questions.
I’ll just cite one example: Back in 2004, we were trying to determine whether what was going on in Darfur was genocide. And we sent Western lawyers out to the refugee camps in Chad to talk with women, to say what happened. And when we had white, Western, mostly men go in, it was a stone wall. Then we had local populations ask the questions. And what we then got was an outpouring of emotion, an outpouring of honesty, including women who would say, “When I was being raped, the man raping me said I’m doing this so you’re never going to have a black baby again.” And we heard that time and time again. Voila. The data now leads to the declaration that we made of our determination that what was going on there was indeed genocide.
MR. BROOKS: There’s a natural contrast between the stories and the concentration on data, which is going to make me seem like Dr. Spock.
MR. STEINBERG: It’s Mr. Spock.
MR. BROOKS: Mr. Spock, yes. That’s right. Good point. (Laughter.) That was my Freudian error. Excuse me. But how – when you – obviously when you’re collecting data, you need local people. How much do you need people with statistical backgrounds? How hard is it to keep those people? Or when you’re doing questioning like that, how much can you rely on people you can train pretty quickly? Anybody?
MR. KIRKPATRICK: I think, certainly, you – there’s a great need for investing in statistical capacity around the world, particularly in developing countries. I think that there are a lot of new sources of data out there – certainly where we’re looking at in Global Pulse – all the real time data that Secretary Clinton referred to, that is just being generated on its own. But again, to interpret these new forms of data – social media conversation, the data exhaust generated by people using digital services through mobile phones – you also need significant statistical expertise. This is the new field of data science. If anything, the need is greater there. But I think it’s – I think that the better training people have at the national level the better kinds of questions they’re able to ask.
MR. BROOKS: But is it really –
MR. JUTTING: And I think on this point – because I think this point hasn’t come up yet so far in the discussions, about the statistical capacity, national statistical systems. And I think there is – and to get some sort of contrast and maybe also on the panel – because I think there is a certain risk. There’s all this good, well-intended data initiatives we can see in the gender field. And we have seen it from very different international organizations, from bilateral dollars. There’s a risk – there’s a certain risk of a fragmentation of the national statistical system and – fragmentation and also policy incoherence – that leading then that national statistical people might just then follow the mood of the day, the mood of the dollars. That’s actually more interesting because they get money for that. Often, they are anyway underpaid, they move – they might move out of – so to strengthen national statistical capacity is key.
And we have a tool for this, which is called the national strategies for the development of statistics, the NSDS approach, that our partnership actually putting forward. And it’s very important to see also with the private sector to see how we can get a joint building national ownership of all these data that is collected, because – and it has been said data collection is not the sake for data collection; it should lead to policy change. I mean, we’re only changing policies if people who do collect the data are also living in the country and make an impact and own the data.
MR. BROOKS: Anne-Marie, talk especially about policies.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, I want to talk about training statisticians and how – it’s very important that we have women statisticians, because it’s very important that we have women framing the questions. So there are two parts to this. Let me start with why it’s important also to have women framing the questions, and I’ll use an example that’s been kind of much in the news in my life anyway.
So this debate that I’ve been having where Sheryl Sandberg about the McKinsey study that says women don’t want to be CEO as much as men do. Well, that’s one way to ask the question. Do you want to be CEO? There’s another way to ask the question that would say: Do you want to be CEO on the assumption that you can be CEO and spend time with your family? Now I’m willing to bet if you ask that question, you’ll get very different results than if you just asked, do you want to be CEO. I don’t know that, but certainly my experience says you’d get a different result.
And this is Gallup, we know all about how you ask the question determines what answer you get. So it’s very important to have women as diverse in terms of being statisticians, asking these questions, thinking about what factors might bear on different answers. Now, that then comes to educating statisticians, and I will just admit right now I did not take quantitative analysis. I wanted to get into law school, and I was sure I was going to bomb the course.
One reason I didn’t is that I didn’t really see what values statistics were going to have in what I wanted to work on. And as the former dean of a public policy school, it’s enormously important that we capture students young and get them to see if women are interested in development issues, or in any sets of issues, to get them to see how data is directly germane to what they’re going to do, because that’s then how you get them into the courses, that’s how they become statisticians, that’s how they teach it, and ultimately we design better surveys.
MR. BROOKS: I register a degree of skepticism that in a lot of countries with a shortage of people with statistical abilities that, if you educate somebody to do this, they’re going to remain doing this kind of work, rather than going to work for Chase Bank or whatever they’re going to do. Presumably the money’s just a lot better.
Jon, let me –
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, that’s true. I’d just say, though, of the two – I mean, given again how many women are in NGOs versus how many women are in banks, I would still bet if you educate more women as statisticians, you’ll get more of the data.
MS. BROOKS: Jon, let’s go back to my original question: What do you see in the data you guys are doing that’s interesting and exciting?
MR. CLIFTON: Sure. So there’s really two ways to look at data right now. One is that you have sort of this objective data and you have subjective data. So with the objective data, we virtually know everything about when somebody is born and when they die, whether they have a job, the money transactions that they’ve made, and we count all of that. Now the second piece is the subjective piece, where we sort of get into their minds and we ask them how are you doing and then we quantify that.
So now we’ve done that for virtually every single country in the world, and we go to great lengths to do this. So we go into a bunch of countries, a lot of time they’re face-to-face – and by the way, to your point whether or not this is difficult, the response rates are some of the highest in the developing world, Zimbabwe and Iraq, for example, and do you know why?
MR. BROOKS: Why?
MR. CLIFTON: Nobody’s ever asked them their opinion, where all we have here in America – we make all these phone calls to Americans, they hang up. (Laughter.) But when we were in Zimbabwe and when we were in all throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, people will bring tea in to continue the conversation, so it goes up to an hour and half. (Laughter.)
What have we found? One of the most simple ways to get into somebody’s mind is to ask them, on a scale of zero to ten – zero being the worst possible life and ten being the best possible life – where do you stand today? And then we ask them a follow-up question: Where do you think you’ll stand in the next five years? And if you think about this, it’s sort of a measure of hope.
So what’s the number one country in the world where the largest gender gap exists, where women are ahead of men?
MS. SLAUGHTER: Women are ahead of men?
MR. CLIFTON: Where women are ahead of men.
MS. SLAUGHTER: In terms of hope?
MR. CLIFTON: In terms of hope. Right now – again, I wouldn’t guess this one at all – small country in the Middle East, Qatar is number one with a 13 point gap in terms of the percent of people that are thriving. But as you see, as we continue to think about measuring the world through a Western lens, through some of the metrics that we’ve built for Western standards like unemployment, it doesn’t allow us to dig in to fully understand the stories that exist in so many countries in the world. And for the West to see a country like Qatar and to say there’s a gender gap that exists there where women, apparently, are doing better than men. So that’s probably one of the most significant findings we’ve had so far in terms of our wellbeing research.
MR. BROOKS: Now there was one sphere the Secretary talked about that I was a little vaguer about, which was this data and how it relates to security issues. Can somebody fill in space there and what’s a concrete example where we can get data on something that will relate to a security issue?
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, the best example is Northern Ireland, right, where women were absolutely essential to bringing about a settlement once they were included in the peace negotiations. So then that’s – that was one of the starting points for the UN Resolution on Women and Peace and Security, but we have lots of examples also from Africa. There’s one that’s – it sounds like it’s apocryphal but it’s not, where you added women to this negotiation that was going on over a territorial dispute, and there had been an intense battle actually between the men engaged, and you added women and it was discovered that at least, in large parts, this river that they were battling on had actually dried up. (Laughter.)
So that’s one particularly striking example, but there’s a growing amount on data, and it’s hardly surprising. If you think about a conflict and you think how women experience that conflict different than the men who are fighting that conflict experience it, it’s not surprising to expect that if you include them in peace negotiations, if you include them in thinking about a transition, you are going to get a different set of perspectives, one that is more conducive to peace and more conducive to stability. Doesn’t mean women are pacifist – anything but – but it does mean they have a different set of goals.
MR. BROOKS: I am reminded of the joke that when two men fight over a woman, it’s the fight they want, not the woman. (Laughter.)
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: Follow-up that, we’ve had some incredible data collection now in the space of women, peace, and security. A lot of it is done by a woman, Anne-Marie Goetz, whose working at UN Women at the United Nations. She’s identified that 1 out of every 16 participants in the peace process is a woman. She’s identified that literally 6 percent of the money that we dedicate in post-conflict reconstruction exercises goes for women’s issues. We still have never had a woman lead a UN peace negotiation around the world.
I was the American ambassador in Angola in 1995, when we were trying to implement a peace process. We had 40 participants in that implementation process, all of whom were men. And because of that, we systematically ignored issues of sexual violence that occurred during conflict, the need to get women back to their villages, the process of demobilization of soldiers, where were sending soldiers back to communities that had learned to live without them, and we had a massive case of sexual violence, rape, wife killing, as if we had ended the formal civil war but launched a new and more pernicious form of violence against women. And I’ve always believed that the systematic exclusion of women from that process was one of the reasons for that.
First thing we did in that peace process was pass 13 separate amnesties, where men with guns forgave other men with guns for crimes that they had committed against women. If we had had women with ground truth at that table, we wouldn’t have been back at civil war three years later.
MR. BROOKS: Now – okay, Johannes.
MR. JUTTING: Yeah. I wanted to – because you said women, peace, and security. If you take the term security a little bit larger, we could also talk about food security, for instance, which often is the cause of maybe violent conflicts. And here we have data speaking about data showing us that woman are often the key, main, in the small hold agriculture for food production. It’s the women who are driving the production, and there’s even now talk of feminization of agriculture. So men move out of – to industrial sector, women stayed. So I think with this new data, because we were asking in the beginning in terms of what kind of greater state of development, I think in agriculture we have more, but there is still an enormous gap in agriculture in particular, and also sexist aggregated data in agriculture. I think we have to get more data to understand these kind of processes for development.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: I need to pick up on that just for a half second, because we have launched, as of a year ago, an agricultural gender empowerment tool that is now at the United Nations. It’s now being picked up country after country, and it is giving us some just fascinating data regarding how to empower women in agriculture. And it’s going in and doing some very innovative things, like looking at in community meetings, where they’re deciding what to plant how many women talk and how many men talk. It’s when a decision is made are you going to sell your product in that market or that market, who is making that decision? And we’re generating some really fascinating data. We’re right at the beginning of this process, but it’s going to help revolutionize this area.
MR. BROOKS: We have an expert on the floor here, and we’re about to call on Sanam Anderlini from MIT. If you could – just on this issue of security and data.
MS. ANDERLINI: On the women pieces. Thank you very much. I think there are different ways of looking at this –
MR. BROOKS: Maybe if you could stand.
MS. ANDERLINI: You want me to come back? Is that –
MR. BROOKS: Face the --
MS. ANDERLINI: So I think there are different ways of looking at this. One is to say if we look at – from the World Bank data, if we look at places where we have wars right now or in the last decade, they’ve had wars over the last 30 years. So the data line, the data point, is that we’re actually not doing a very good job on sustainable peace processes. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is that the nature of conflict has changed, but the way we do peacemaking hasn’t changed. So if you have conflicts between two countries, the chances are that the societies within those countries become nationalistic and they support their government, regardless of whether that government is democratic or not. But if you have a civil war, it’s exactly the opposite. It’s atomizing society. It’s places where people sort of group into their ethnic groups or identity groups or whatever.
And yet, what do we do? When we come to making peace, we bring the government, which is illegitimate in the eyes of many, and then we bring the armed groups, which also are illegitimate in the eyes of many, and we exclude systematically the people in the communities who are pro-peace, who have been active in peacemaking, using – being very courageous, et cetera, and women are systematically excluded from that.
And if it was – if we said it was 50 percent of the population that happened to be black or Jewish or Chinese or whatever, we would say this is racism and this is discrimination. When it comes to women, we say oh, this is cultural. This is cultural. Okay, so we in our own heads have a double standard about where we draw the lines in terms of women versus other identity groups if you want. That’s the first thing.
The other thing is that I think that we now – I’m married to an economist. I think statistics and data is fabulous, but we should be very careful. I was in Nepal a few years ago. We were told that the government said 98 percent of the population had access to reproductive healthcare, condoms. We had UNVs and communities and they were saying that people are making up the data, they were saying that yes, condoms are being handed out, but it’s for putting on roofs because it’s really good against the rain. Okay. (Laughter.)
MR. BROOKS: That’s a lot of condoms. (Laughter.)
MS. ANDERLINI: Right. We’ve seen kids in refugee camps chewing on condoms because it’s good chewing – I mean, so what is – so you can say we’ve handed this stuff out, but really what’s the use? So I think that part of it that in places where there’s conflict and crisis and especially when we’re talking about processes, anthropological methods, case studies, interviews, really going in depth and saying what did we do, what happened, and so forth I think is really important.
And then the other point I think which is really – is if you Google “women in conflict,” 99.9 percent of the data that – information you get will be the impact of conflict on women. Very little is about what women have done. And this is the work that I tried – we did a 12-country case study back in 2002 to 2005. Last year, we did a 6-country case study with MIT looking at what women are saying about their inclusion in peace processes. We have case study data which is valuable, and we should be using it. We also have lessons.
And my plea, I think, is that I don’t know why we’re not applying the information that we have to our own policies. What are we doing in Syria right now? Are we engaging the women, the Syrian – we didn’t do it with Libyan women. They were there, and we didn’t do it. It’s consistently that this – our own prejudices get in the way and the inertia of changing the business of peacemaking, which is incredibly still exclusive and limited, when it’s probably the most important period in a country’s history in terms of the blueprint for the future.
MR. BROOKS: Now let me – (applause) – we’re going to go to the floor in a second. Let me just Robert and Jon, we – you collect data on a whole variety of things, and we do crosstabs, we do divide it a number of ways, by income by ethnicity. In what areas is the gender breakdown most significant and most interesting? Are there examples where you get really stark breakdowns in gender and from areas where there’s really no difference along gender lines?
MR. CLIFTON: Go ahead.
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Well, we’ve – I mean, we’re an R&D lab. We’re looking at a lot of new kinds of data out there, and I think there’s a huge disparity here between what we know on the public policy side and what the private sector knows. We have wonderful data out there that can tell you a lot of things about gender. There are gaps in it, sure, but there’s another kind of gap, which is we don’t know what’s happening until it’s already happened. And we’re tracking progress toward the Millennium Development Goals and we’re using indicators from 2007, 2008, 2009, right? There’s a time gap. There’s a lag in understanding what’s actually happening at the household level.
Meanwhile, the private sector knows you go out of business if you don’t stay close to your customer, and they have developed techniques that use both the observed data of how people change, how they use the services that they subscribe to, and what they talk about online, what they say through Twitter and Facebook and social media. And there’s a whole science and billions and billions of dollars behind the innovation that makes it possible to distinguish between men and women, between teenage girls and adult married women, because you’re trying to market to them.
So we’ve seen this tremendous opportunity to kind of adapt the tools and the methods and these new data sources to understand when people are losing their jobs, when they’re struggling to afford food or healthcare, when they’re getting sick. And it turns out, as we’ve been looking at the research, there’s already a tremendous amount to build on.
So Telefonica Research, largest mobile phone carrier in Latin America, has done work where they’ve shown that it’s possible to predict with about 80 percent accuracy, looking at anonymized data sources on just phone call records, they can tell whether you’re male or female. Women use their phones differently than men do. They can also predict your socioeconomic level, your age group. A mobile phone carrier I talked to in Indonesia says they can even predict your religion. But the point is that women are more social, they make more personal-related calls rather than men, more than men. They make more calls, they talk for longer – (laughter) – they spend more money on their phones, their social networks are larger.
And – but it’s interesting. These companies are becoming data companies. The data is more valuable than running a phone network. And there’s a huge incentive for them to learn to do this. We’ve been engaging with private sector and a lot of the mobile industry around this concept of data philanthropy, and at Global Pulse, we’re now being offered anonymized data sets, I mean, years of mobile phone records, air time purchases – people shifting from spending $10 a month all at once to buying 20 or 30 cents means they probably lost their jobs – lots and lots of new data sources, and then social media. I mean, people talk all day long on social media about what’s happening in their lives. They tell social media things you wish they wouldn’t. (Laughter.) They search for their – they talk about the symptoms of illness. But again, you can tell in many cases the gender and the age group by doing social media mining.
English isn’t very useful in that respect. If I mine Twitter in Russian and someone uses a past tense verb, I can tell whether they’re male or female instantly. Some languages have features where you can see marital status, for example, and age just from the syntax. But I think there are tremendous opportunities in this new world of real-time digital data to get an instantaneous indicator of something that’s happening perhaps in a population of women in one part of the world.
MR. CLIFTON: Yeah. So back to your initial question about how do we cut the data and kind of what are we seeing, so we did some traditional cuts of the Gallup World Poll data, first just based on gender and security. So we find really obvious results: globally, women feel less secure than men all over the world. So then we did employment cuts, income cuts, and what we found was not a surprise. Women have less employment opportunities and there is a gender gap when it comes to employment, so that’s not helpful. So the big surprises – and again, we took this wellbeing data. And again, this is why we need to look at it from kind of a different lens rather than the traditional lenses, because somehow women are still on par globally with men when it comes to wellbeing.
And I think the best way – the fact that we are in so many people’s homes, in 160 countries; we do 1,000 people in every single country, so we’re about in 160,000 kind of homes every year. And one of the conversations that happened in Tajikistan – and the reason that we were able to capture this is our regional director happened to be in the room with this particular woman at the time. So we asked her our set of questions, and we said, evaluate your life on a scale of zero to ten, zero being the worst possible life, ten being best. Where were you five years ago? And she said, “I was a two.” Now, for Tajikistan, that’s not a surprise. And when we listened to her on a number of other issues like her health, her job, her income, a two makes a lot of sense.
So then the next question: Evaluate your life today. She said, “I’m a ten.” And we said, “How about in five years?” And she said, “A ten.” And again, for Tajikistan, that’s really a surprise. So we wouldn’t have known why this had happened. We may have just thought it was something unusual in the data, because it’s too high of a jump. But our regional director happened to be in the room, and when we have our regional directors in the room, they’re test interviews and we end up throwing them out, but it’s helpful for qualitative purposes. And so she said at the end of the interview, “Can you please tell me why the spike in those two questions?” And the woman said, “Sure.” She said, “I’ve got a son.”
But if we look at it through just traditional income data, traditional employment, and traditional security, we might miss a gigantic gap in terms of what really makes women’s wellbeing improve or significantly increase. So Dr. Gallup – we say this all the time here – he had a great quote. But he said – and this was back when the population was a bit smaller – but he said, “There are 5 billion ways to lead a life, and we should study each one of them.” And if you think about it, if you just made a little twist to that, you could say there are probably 3 – 3.5 billion ways for a woman to lead her life, but we should study each one of them.
MR. BROOKS: I just wanted to get a reaction to that, but two things quickly – that self-reported wellbeing is the same across gender?
MR. KIRKPATRICK: That’s correct.
MR. BROOKS: And what do we make of – what should the rest of us make of these self-reported data collection techniques?
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Well, I guess – I think everyone at Gallup would agree that it might be the single greatest question that we ask in every single country in the world. So we actually open every single questionnaire. So whether you’re in Iran, Germany, Saudi, the United States, the first question that we ask you is: Evaluate your life on this particular scale. But it’s half the story. One half is how people evaluate and take a holistic look at their life, and the other one is how people experience their lives. So we ask that as well. So we have ten items that we ask when we say, “Please tell me, did you feel a lot of the following yesterday: How about stress; how about sadness; did you smile and laugh a lot all day yesterday?” So it’s very extreme, because we have to weed out so that there’s more variance.
And we do see that for women and men there is a significant difference, particularly in negative emotions. Women do have more negative emotions on a global basis. But the interesting thing is then when you look to positive emotions, women also have more positive emotions than men on a given basis. So again, a lot of times Gallup gets a bit of criticism. They say, well, gee, Gallup, for all the stuff that you guys do, that seems like pretty soft science. But we showcase a lot of this on Gallup.com, and these were the metrics that we saw that were crashing in Egypt and Tunisia before the Arab Spring. So they’re some of the most important metrics that we think leaders need to be tracking for all demographic groups – men, women, or even individual countries.
MR. CLIFTON: I would just say previously, the perception data has its limitations, but the perception alters human behavior, which has the most profound policy implications. If this is a population that’s going to change its behavior in a way that we need to know about quickly, then being able to track the perception is very important. I think there’s a whole science that we’re just at the dawn of in understanding how to validate this data, how to integrate it in decision-making processes, what role it has. A lot of the research we’re doing is really retrospective correlation analysis where we’ll look at what people were saying about their lives through social media at a time period where we also have food prices, fuel prices, disease outbreaks and so forth, and going back and looking for correlations.
We found that we could get – there’s pretty solid evidence that you can predict unemployment spikes – we didn’t look at women specifically – by looking at how the language, the emotional tone of language that people use to talk about their jobs in the months leading up to an unemployment increase. So we have to learn where is this just misleading and where there are actual correlations that are actionable.
MR. BROOKS: Let’s get questions from the floor. We’ve got a microphone, at least one right here.
QUESTION: Just a reflection and a question. We talked about the importance of having women present and gathering data and things like that, and I just wanted to reflect on the composition of the panel. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed that. (Laughter.) And then a question – (laughter and applause) – a question I had was if anyone could speak to how any of these projects or data initiatives are addressing the special challenges and data gaps for the transgender population. Thank you.
MS. SLAUGHTER: For the transgender population.
MR. CLIFTON: So we ask one question that we’ve been testing in every single country in the world. Some places it’s – we can’t ask the question, but we do say – and it’s challenging because we have to translate this in virtually every single country where we’re doing interviews. But we say, “Is the place where you live – is the city or area where you life a good place or a bad place for gay and lesbian people?” And the countries sort out sort of nicely with GDP per capita. But what we’ve found that there are even in some places where people ask us to stop the interview because they’re so uncomfortable with that particular question. But yeah, I guess the most significant finding would be from that that it does highly correlate with GDP per capita, probably with the outlier being the GCC.
MR. BROOKS: Others.
QUESTION: Thank you so much for your comments. My name is Elisha Bonner (ph), and I’m with the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, one of our priorities of which is counting girls. The question I have for the panel is: Is there a way in which – and you sort of alluded to this with subjects being aware of being counted – but where girls or women become aware of being subjects in a way in which that helps or hinders the data, and if we can encourage women or girls to become more involved in helping gain greater insight into the subjective element of data?
MR. BROOKS: Don’t all leap at once. (Laughter.)
MR. KIRKPATRICK: I think that this is an area where we don’t have enough data, as it were. But I think that – certainly I was talking to ILO colleagues in Indonesia where we’re starting to work on supporting them by looking at bringing social media analysis into a project that’s looking at barriers to women’s entry into the workforce and discrimination in the workforce. And certainly, they told me that when they went to factories, for example, and asked women standing there with a clipboard, what are the barriers, are you being harassed at work, they didn’t get very good data. But as soon as they handed them a tablet and said, “Fill this out and come back to me,” that already altered the dynamics tremendously.
I think the passive kinds of analysis where you’re just looking at what people are saying to each other online, it’s different, but they’re also even more – there are some tremendous advantages there, too, perhaps because people aren’t thinking at the time individually “I am a subject,” and therefore that feedback loop isn’t there, and you can simply observe this data. You have to do this in ways that protect privacy of course, but –
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: I think for most of us who have worked in developing countries, and in particular in conflict-ridden countries, we always have the problem that we go into these situations and we sit down and, in particular in my case with women, and you want to ask them what’s going on here, and after a while, they look at you and say, “You’re the sixth person who’s come from Washington or New York to ask me these questions. I’m getting tired of giving you answers. When are you going to finally do something to improve my status?” And so I think that that reflects a broader notion, and that is the idea of victimhood, that we do regard women in conflict situations – we regard them generally in many cultures and many traditional areas as indeed victims.
And to pick up on Sanam’s point, we have to start looking at them as the solution. So the phrase we use is we don’t – they’re not just beneficiaries. They are planners, implementers, and the second expression we use is nothing about them without them. So we have to --
MR. BROOKS: Can anybody come up with examples of giving data back to people that they can then use that they have used in concrete ways?
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: Yes. We do that – we’ve done that very substantially. For example, I was referring to eastern Congo, and the patterns of sexual violence that we’re seeing, because two, three years ago we had very little data on that, and it is very significant. Are the majority of the sexual abuses occurring from armed forces? Are they from rebels? Are they from family members? Are they from teachers, other authority figures? And so we did substantial polling in those areas, came up with some very significant data, and then shared it with local officials who were trying to address the problem. And it hasn’t helped a lot, but it’s helped somewhat.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, or – but also, this is another category of how we’re collecting data, which is crowd sourcing, right, and crowd mapping. So things like HarassMap, where you take – this is happening in Kenya, it’s happening in parts of India, where you allow women – you give women the ability to text in to a common number when they’re being harassed, when they know somebody’s being harassed. That data’s then public. And you can see, oh, here’s an area that you really have to be careful; here’s an area – now government, of course, can use that information, but so too can the women or the families who are using it. And there’s a lot to refine about all those tools, but they’re spreading very rapidly.
MR. KIRKPATRICK: Just one statistic here, obviously, that I think women’s ability to communicate what’s happening has an impact on what happens in their lives. And actually from Eastern Congo, there’s been some evidence that the prevalence of violence against women correlates very closely with mobile phone coverage. Where there are phones, there is some measure, not adequate, but some measure of accountability. This suggests that it’s possible to actually target interventions at those black holes in the coverage maps.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: One other thing we’re doing is programs for safe schools in Africa for girls so that they can be confident that they can go to schools and not be subjected to violence, et cetera. The key thing that we’re doing in that case is giving them mobile phones and giving them a hotline to call to report on their professors or their administrators who are abusing them.
MR. BROOKS: Do we have other questions? There’s one here.
QUESTION: Hi. Angelic Young with Institute for Inclusive Security. A couple of you have talked about the importance of how you ask the question and also the importance of including women in the planning and design and implementation of programs. Are there any examples of where we’re now including women in the design and implementation of the questions of the monitoring and evaluation systems themselves?
MR. KIRKPATRICK: From our perspective, I mean, I think – I mean, just thinking of our regional directors for each of our regions, I think we have two. I think there’s one woman just runs the whole region. And then for all the – Latin America, for Europe, a woman’s the regional director. So she has oversight of the entire process.
But I think more to your question about how the questions are asked and is there gender neutrality within the questions, I think the best study that sort of captures the problem here – there’s a professor that took randomly selected Asian women at a university and put them all in a classroom and split them into two classrooms. So again, all randomly selected Asian women and he had them take exactly the same test. Now if he had them take exactly the same test, which he did, their scores, the mean would be exactly the same. Again, they’re selected at random, right? So what he did before they took the exam is he had them write an essay. One group of these Asian women was to write an essay about what it’s like to be a woman in America. And the other one was to write an essay about what it’s like to be an Asian in America.
Now again, if all people were rational, writing a short five-minute essay before you take an exam should make no impact on your score. So what happened? The one – the group that wrote the essay about what it’s like to be a woman in America scored significantly lower than what it’s like – the group that wrote an essay about what it’s like to be an Asian in America.
So when you think about asking questions on a survey – there’s also the famous example about the dating life and how you’re doing and they asked college kids. And they go: how are you doing? And everybody goes awesome. And they go: How’s your dating life? And they go: Not so good. And the statistical relationship was terrible and then they flipped the order. And they said: How’s your dating life? And they go: Not so good. And they go: How’s your life? And they go: Well, now that you say that, not so good. (Laughter.) And the statistical relationship jumped to like a 0.8. You see, if people were rational the order of which you ask them questions should make no impact on how they answer it, and yet it makes all the difference.
So we have to see it through that lens, for cultural things, for gender things – I mean for every single demographic that we deal with on our surveys.
MR. BROOKS: I wrote an essay before this that Why I’m Walter Cronkite, just to make me – (laughter). Let’s go here and then to back there.
QUESTION: Hi. My name’s Curt Rice. I’m the vice-director for research at the University of Tromso in northern Norway. And as a white guy who’s been engaged for a while in the argument that gender balance improves quality for everyone, I want to say, first of all, that I find the degree of diversity on this panel to be unacceptable. (Laughter.) But having said that, I also have a comment on a question.
In my university, in the course of 10 years, we’ve changed the percentage of full professors who are women from 9 to over 30. And we’ve done that because we’ve been able to deliberately go in and try to remove structural barriers. That’s been possible because we started out knowing where we were; we had the data. But it’s also been possible because we set very specific goals for ourselves. And I’d like to ask that question of the panel: How is that part of the discussion? How can we use our engagement today on closing the data gap to also facilitate articulate expression of goals?
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: That’s an excellent point. And frankly at USAID, we’re involved in a wide variety of programs for gender empowerment. We’re insisting in each of those programs that we have a time bound, measureable output – or outcome that we’re looking for. Because frankly, we’re tired of going out and saying we trained X number of women in political life or empowered X number of social organizations. We want to know, not only are those women that we’re training in political life, are they running for parliament? Are they winning seats in parliament? And is parliament changing because of their participation? Are you, in fact, seeing more spending on socioeconomic issues? Are you, in fact, seeing less corruption in those structures? And so our requirement for our people in the field is to identify time bound goals that can be measured and then to measure them. And that feeds back into the loop of how we’re doing the projects.
The other thing that we’re now doing is we’re requiring the equivalent of a gender impact statement for every, single project that we’re doing. And when we first started to do this, we would get people coming back and saying: We’re planning to build a hydroelectric dam. Not really a gender aspect to this. And so we would get things like half of the people who were going to use the electricity are women. And you’d sort of look at them, and then you’d say: Can you actually look at the data? Who is going to be employed in producing that hydroelectric dam? And you bet it’s going to be 90 percent men in the construction industry. So that’s one factor.
How is electricity used in that community? And are you going to – for example, if cooking is done through wood or if they are carbon based, we all know that there are two million women around the world who die from respiratory illnesses each year because of indoor cooking. So is the electricity from that hydro plant going to help you in that regard?
We’re asking questions like who is going to be displaced from their homes by that hydroelectric dam, and are you going to be creating a situation where women are vulnerable? And then we’re requiring people to measure that. To measure it not only in terms of reporting whether the project should go ahead, but as part of the project these are the things you have to look at. And frankly, it’s changing the way we do business.
MR. BROOKS: Let’s do one more question. Maybe in the back there.
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Milad Pournik with the Global Agenda Program at George Washington University. And I just want to preface my question by saying this is no means to disrespect the point of this conference. I really appreciate that we’re looking at ways to get new data. We’re really highlighting – Dr. Anderlini highlighted the importance of looking at nuances. But as a researcher and to deal with the skeptics – I’m sure there are none in this room – but to deal with the skeptics as a researcher, my question is: What we have right now, when I’m a researcher, what do you point me towards – you look at this specific measure that can be used right now when we’re trying to do our work, to try to make our arguments, and elaborate our arguments for why there is a link between gender equality and more prosperity – gender equality and more stability.
So for example, you’ve been looking at lots of composite indices. Obviously, probably the colleague from the Gallup poll is going to say: Look to the 0 to 10, and we really do appreciate that. But my question is: For us right now, what would you guys point us towards to look at, right now, where we stand today? And again, thank you for all your work and effort. We really are inspired by your work. Thank you.
MR. JUTTING: I think this is a very important question, bringing us to the aspect in terms of producer and user dialogue of statistics. I, myself, have worked for a very long time as a user, as an academic, using statistics. And now I’m sitting as a manager of the PARIS21 Secretariat, trying to help statistical capacity building. And what I can see is that there is sometimes really a misunderstanding between those people who ask for very specific data because they need it for their academic or for other work. And then the producers, they’re also frustrated because with giving – with limited financial and human resources what they can actually produce.
So now, what is the way out of it and maybe there are two ways out of it, and as a suggestion, because we can see now a proliferation of data in many developing countries produced by, among others, Gallup, by social weather stations, and we see national statistical offices striving to get ahead of the curve and be part of this. And on the other side, we have so many users now being interested in data, media, politicians, academics. So why not trying to bring them together? Why not organizing at a country level a user-producer dialogue on a certain topic – on gender topic, on a selected topic – and have – engage into a debate, which could possibly lead to something like a public-private partnership. I mean, we have sort of – we have – Gallup has micro-data on so many countries. National statistical office don’t have that data. So why not trying at least to bring them together to share the data and to get more data out?
MR. BROOKS: Let me end by just echoing that word, “dialogue.” As you were talking about gender-specific phone usage patterns, I was reminded of a story that happened to me couple months ago. I was interviewing a senior government official and I was on my cell phone, and he was giving me some argument, and the call dropped. And so I thought, oh, he’ll call back in a minute, he’ll realize. And he never called, he never called, so I called his office about seven minutes later, and his assistant said, “No, he’s on the phone.” (Laughter.) I said, “No, he’s on the phone with me, he doesn’t realize the call has dropped.” (Laughter.) And so he called me three minutes later, so it had been about 10 minutes, and he said, “Where was I?” And if you’re talking for 10 minutes, you don’t realize that’s not a dialogue. (Laughter.) So that was a male-specific phone usage pattern. (Laughter.) And – but I hope we’ve used data to – data is dialogue in some way, and I hope we’ve tried to create two-way communication here, and thank you all so much.
AMBASSADOR STEINBERG: David, could I just use one thing and that is to thank Anne-Marie Slaughter, because we – I don’t know if it’s true in your organizations, but at AID, we have now spent the last two weeks talking about the article that she wrote for Atlantic Monthly. (Laughter and applause.) And for anyone who’s concerned about the gender balance, it was done purposely, because she represents five people. (Laughter.)
MR. BROOKS: We thank Secretary Clinton, the staff, Jim Klein who, at least from my point of view, helped to set this up. Thank you all so much. (Applause.)
MS. LEMMON: Ambassador Verveer is urging people not to leave yet. So good morning. I’m Gayle Lemmon from the Council on Foreign Relations. And just wanted to sum up a lot of what we have heard this morning about data. It may not be sexy, but it really does matter.
We do not count what we don’t see. And we don’t invest in what’s invisible. And for a long time now, we have aimed low, thought small, and measured little when it comes to women. In 2007, while chairing the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Jim Kim set out to narrow the gap between aspiration and action and to apply theoretical principles and qualitative and quantitative analysis to vexing global health issues.
He noted then that there is a deadly gap between what we know and what we do. And that statement could not be truer today when it comes to making sure that half the population is not a special interest group and that they have the tools and the opportunities they need to survive, thrive, and contribute to their families, their societies, and their economies.
The State Department, through its first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and the World Bank, through it its first-ever World Bank World Development Report on Gender Equality, have been leading the way to pull women in from the lonely periphery and to put them at the center of poverty fighting, diplomacy building, and growth fostering. And there is much more work to be done.
Today, we had the pleasure of hearing all of these leaders assembled to discuss why counting matters. Data drives what we do and how we do it, and when it comes to outcomes, very little matters more. Bolstering women can no longer be dismissed as “soft stuff” or “fuzzy feel goods” when concrete numbers show conclusively the positives that women’s participation makes possible.
As we heard from the World Bank’s President Jim Kim, the new gender data portal will count and share the data and evidence the World Bank is counting together and eliminate the, quote, “appalling gaps” in the country data and frequency when it comes to women.
Secretary Clinton talked about that black hole at the center of the data universe. And in investment language, my former world, she talked about leaving value on the table. And the thing is that all too often we don’t look at the economic drivers, at the numbers, and why things are happening on the ground in the way they do.
I worked on a story on child marriage in India that paid parents not to marry off their girls. And when you would go and do the interviews you would ask the parents, “Well, does the money make a difference?” And they’d say, “No.” So okay, “Well, why is your 17 year old girl still in school, and she’s the only one among all her siblings?” They say, “Well, because we get $500 next year if she’s not married.” So you have to look at what’s actually happening. And as Secretary Clinton said, the data cannot only measure progress, it can inspire it. So we look forward to Data 2X.
As we heard from our excellent panel, leaving people out can also mean counting people out, and the power of technology to help gather data and keep women safe, matters. Exactly how women figure into that complex calculation that leads to peace and security is something we are still studying, but it is obvious that when women are at the table, they are not window shopping for power, they are part of gathering it and exercising it.
Secretary Clinton said last November that there’s an old saying: “What gets measured, gets noticed.” And when we measure these same indicators consistently over time, then we will notice whether or not we are making progress. Today we have a unique opportunity to make progress in making the invisible visible and closing that deadly gap between what we know and what we do when it comes to women. And I hope that each one of us leaves today with a drive to do more to make the data make the world better for everyone, because women around the world are counting on it.
Thank you, and with that, I want to leave you with the inimitable Ambassador Verveer, who has spent a career making sure that women are at the table, being heard, and exercising their voice. Thank you. (Applause.)
My travels around the world have only reinforced my belief that the low status of women and girls is the moral challenge of this 21st century. But time and time again, I have seen that often what is convincing to those who hold the levers of power is not a matter of justice, is not an appeal to justice. Rather it is the data, the numbers, the cold, hard facts about how the advancement of women affects our collective prosperity and security.
When the powerful World Economic Forum puts out its annual gender gap report that shows that in countries where men and women are closer to being equal on four important metrics – health, education, economic participation, and political empowerment – those countries are far more economically competitive and far more prosperous. That data and its source speak more persuasively. And the World Bank has summed all of this up by saying that gender equality is indeed smart economics.
Now as you heard from Secretary Clinton, we at the State Department have put a real focus on greater collection of gender-sensitive data and, certainly, to make the case for women’s economic participation. And we have utilized various platforms across the government in which to do that, one being the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, known as APEC.
The United Nations published a statistic some years ago that in many ways was an attention grabber because it made the case to the region. It said in its analysis that the Asia Pacific region is being shortchanged between $42 and $46 billion annually in GDP because the potential of women is not being tapped. Now by all estimates, this is a very conservative calculation. Women and the economy made it to the APEC agenda. And as you heard from the Secretary, in San Francisco last year at the first ever Women and the Economy Summit that included high level ministers and private sector participants, she made a very strong evidence-based case for women’s economic participation.
Now what did that do? Well, first of all, it put attention on a subject that had not gotten the same kind of attention – perhaps only in the statistically – in the statistics gathering world. But just a month ago, as Russia hosted the next installment of APEC, as it does this year, we heard that each of the 21 economies had a list of achievements and initiatives to close the gender gap in women who run SMEs – small and medium sized enterprises – that great missing middle where economic growth and jobs creation takes place. Data, in this case, has inspired action. And so has the fact that all countries today are looking to grow their economies.
We have also seen in our domestic context in the United States on another issue how important to all of this is. After decades of work to elevate the need to combat violence against women on our national agenda, it was economists who published studies uncovering the economic costs of violence against women, what it imposes in productivity and how that relates negatively on our families, our communities, and our economies. Suddenly, this issue was no longer just a matter that women were concerned about. It was a matter that affected bottom lines for everybody, particularly the business community. And that data helped convince the business community to engage on this issue, and it contributed significantly to the passage in 1994 of the Violence Against Women Act, a landmark law that protects women and girls all across our country.
Now, violence against women and girls is a global epidemic; and yet there is much more we need to know. There is a deadly gap between what is happening and where and the consequences of this violence. We need to know more about effective interventions. And just last week in Cambodia, at a conference in the Lower Mekong that the United States helped co-host on women’s empowerment, a UN official raised the economic costs of violence against women in the region with a significant discussion of the data to buttress that statement. The data’s far from complete. But in making that link, all of sudden the political leaders gathered there were hearing something they had not realized heretofore, that there was indeed a link between violence against women and economic productivity, and it was the first time that many of them had heard this link made.
So once again, an issue that had been heretofore significantly marginalized as a women’s issue, all of sudden took on the focus of something that had economic and public health consequences. We know that violence against women and girls also contributes three times more to the HIV infection, but we have little data on ages and circumstances. And this is why the initiative Together For Girls, that we have undertaken with PEPFAR, is heavily based on data collection. And some at first said, “Why are we doing all of this data collection?” Well, we know from the first pilot project that took place in Swaziland, that it was the power of the data in terms of the magnitude of the violence that had a profound effect on that government to finally begin to tackle this problem. And per a query from the audience this morning, still largely missing from our data and programming are the needs of adolescent girls. We need to understand what challenges they confront and the barriers to services that exist.
Following the conference in Cambodia that I mentioned, I held a roundtable with a group of doctors who were working on healthcare issues and working also in tandem with many NGOs. Many were involved in maternal health and in HIV treatment and prevention. They were all talking about various innovative efforts, but not a single one of them noted the connection between violence against women and girls and HIV. They were treating these issues in isolation from each other. Now if we had better data demonstrating the link between violence and HIV, imagine how much more effective we might be in fighting these threats not only to women and their health, but to our collective health, well-being, and prosperity.
And let me just mention one more issue in closing, one that didn’t get any discussion except for a mention this morning. And that is corruption. It is a global plague that inhibits effective governance, undermines economies, and takes a very high toll on society. Women suffer disproportionately from corruption, particularly in sectors like health and education, where they come into contact with public services which are not delivered or delivered at a price, as the case may be. We need to better understand the types of information available to women and how it can be used to reduce their vulnerability. We also have preliminary, very convincing evidence from the World Bank and some other academic studies that show a positive correlation between women’s high-level political power and decision-making and reductions in corruption. A far greater contribution could be made in this important area if there were data that better enabled us to understand this connection and fully leverage women’s potential in combating corruption.
So as the Secretary said in her remarks, data not only measures progress, it inspires it. To achieve the progress we seek and to make the best decisions we can, we need to ensure that women are counted in all that we do. Nothing less than our collective prosperity and security is at stake.
So let me thank each and every one of you. Let me thank our speakers in a special way, and perhaps say that maybe we have succeeded a little bit to have had such a group of committed males willing to talk about gender data today. (Laughter and applause.) And let me thank you, too, for all that you will do in the months ahead to close the gender data gap, and in so doing, to make the world better for men and women and for boys and girls everywhere. Thank you very much. (Applause.)