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Vantage Blog

July 19, 2023

#ProblemSolvers: How data and collaboration are at the center of gender equity work

Welcome to #ProblemSolvers, a new series focused on sharing perspectives of a wide variety of issues from across Panorama's network.

This month we're excited to share insights from two of our fiscally sponsored partners contributing to the 2023 Women Deliver conference, taking place this week in Kigali, Rwanda. Read on for their thoughts on the importance of data-driven advocacy and how partnership and collaboration could open a world of change.

What is your role and what is your organization focused on?

SPOGMAY: As the Senior Policy Advisor for the Feminist Foreign Policy Collaborative (FFPC), I provide overall policy and advocacy expertise for civil society, governments, and multilateral organizations. The Collaborative is a shared space where feminists inside and outside of government can work together to ensure feminist foreign policies are ambitious, transformative, and effectively implemented. At the root of our approach is collaboration and partnership. We encourage deep reflection, continued learning and the exchange of ideas, and aim to foster transnational solidarity within and among feminist movements. In order to inform and advance feminist foreign policies, we curate intimate convenings, provide technical assistance, and amplify the expertise of feminists around the world.
CORETTA: As the Senior Data Capacity Lead for Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030), I work with the coalition to ensure advocates have access to learning resources they need to support their data-driven advocacy work. In the fight for global gender equality, gender data holds paramount importance—it's a mirror reflecting reality and a catalyst for change. Our mission is two-fold: first, to provide the needed data and the skills to use it effectively to influence decision making and shape policy for change. Second, to amplify our collective voices for increased funding to support gender equality champions worldwide. This multi-pronged approach ensures gender data is not just available, but also meaningfully used for fostering global equality.  

What issues are you interested to learn more about at this year's Women Deliver conference?

SPOGMAY: I'm particularly interested in really learning from and listening to the African feminists who will be attending the conference. I think it’s a unique opportunity having this global conference in Kigali; it gives us an opportunity to learn from longstanding feminist movements across Africa, challenge our thinking, and find solidarity across various global contexts. We'll be engaging or co-sponsoring a couple of events - I’m really excited to work with FEMNET, which is a pan-African feminist organization, on a consultation on feminist foreign policy and debt. It’s exciting for us because it's an opportunity to engage in a new issue area that is really pressing, particularly for our partners across the Global South. And really, we’re just excited at the chance to meet with women leaders from around the world.

What topics are you presenting at this year's Women Deliver conference?

CORETTA: At WD2023, we are harnessing the collective voices of our partners to envision and work towards achieving a #GenderEqualFuture using data and driven by our SDG Gender Index. We will delve into themes of political leadership and fostering younger generations of female leaders, and our underlying message is that the pace at which we're progressing is insufficient. Our concerted voices highlight the need to accelerate the pace, scale, and intensity of progress to secure a #GenderEqualFuture.

What is an issue in your field that you think has seen meaningful progress in recent years?

SPOGMAY: Feminist foreign policy has gained momentum over the past few years, which is exciting and offers a window of opportunity to engage in a range of issues that would be difficult to get attention to otherwise. There's been a lot of change over the past few years in governments’ willingness to engage with civil society and institutionalize a gender lens across a variety of issues and work. More work is needed, but there's been tremendous growth.
CORETTA: While our latest findings from the SDG Gender Index indicate some progress, much more is needed to achieve equality. More than half of countries worldwide have navigated the path towards gender equality, signifying a notable global shift. A standout among these strides is the surge in women's political representation. From local parliaments to ministerial offices, numerous countries have improved women's political participation. A notable success story is Rwanda, which stands as a global frontrunner, having achieved parity in political representation. However, the journey towards universal equality is far from over. Many countries are yet to match pace, and converting heightened political representation into improved policies is a long-term endeavour.

If you could focus everyone's attention on solving one specific issue or problem in the gender equity space, what would it be and why?

SPOGMAY: I would encourage people to try reexamining what we think about power. When we talk about power, we often think about who has systemic or material resources or who is in decision-making roles, and that often leads us to think about governments, leaders, CEOs, etc. But something that's so fundamental, not only to feminist foreign policy but to feminism itself, is the belief that power is a shared principle and that we are stronger together so long as we are working towards the same goals. That's something that the Collaborative really believes in - we collectively hold power as a force for good and social change. It opens up a world of change.
CORETTA: Now, more than ever, as we approach the mid-point of the 2030 Agenda, data is vital in propelling us toward equality. It's imperative that our coalition prioritizes delivering timely and reliable gender data to advocates, reflecting the authentic experiences of all women and girls. Regrettably, data gaps in areas vital to women and girls, such as unpaid care, food security, health, and global crises, threaten our progress towards a #GenderEqualFuture. Given our current trajectory, gender equality will remain an elusive goal until 2108. Thus, the call for collective action resounds louder than ever.

Any advice for problem solvers working on other social impact issues?

SPOGMAY: I encourage problem solvers to centralize a gendered analysis in their work and really examine the impacts of different policies and programs on men, women, nonbinary communities, and other marginalized communities - to really adopt an intersectional approach. Oftentimes those who do not work in the gendered space view gender as a kind of add-on, but gender equality is in fact central to policy-making efforts. Examine your ways of thinking and be more intentional about your own partnerships and meaningful engagement efforts with civil society and feminist movements.

About the #ProblemSolvers series

#ProblemSolvers shares perspectives of a wide variety of issues from across Panorama's network.

With partners working on a vast range of issues across the world, Panorama has a unique and privileged view of all the different ways change can happen across the social impact landscape. Whether we're working with advocates or funders, storytellers or policymakers, corporate leaders or entrepreneurs, it's clear that we're all #ProblemSolvers.

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