Is the World Fundamentally Unserious About Gender Equality?

As someone who has spent the past five years of her life studying the way we fund gender equality movements, this is the question I am often left with at the end of the day: Is the world fundamentally unserious about gender equality?

Because the more you look at the data, the more it seems that funding for gender equality is so sidelined and misdirected and poorly tracked and evaluated, that it’s really no wonder that progress is as slow as it is.

A new report entitled Tracking Philanthropic and Gender Equality Financing aggregated data from SDGFunders to come up with the following totals of funding from the top 10 private foundations doing this work in Kenya. (Image credit: Publish What You Fund)

Now, a new report by Publish What You Fund and partners helps to elucidate just what funding for gender equality looks like in different nations around the world, and shows us just how little we know about what is going on with this sector of social change funding.

Tracking Philanthropic and Gender Equality Financing attempts to tell the story of gender equality funding for three countries from 2018 to 2021 — Kenya, Nepal, and Guatemala. But it is a very hard story to tell, because the data to tell the story comprehensively and effectively does not exist. As just a small sample of the problems cited about this data:

●There are no data available about the number of projects, the project names, type of assistance (e.g., ODA, blended finance).
● It is not clear if the funding corresponds to commitments or actual disbursements made by the foundations.
● There is no information about the results/impact of the activities that are funded.

The bullet points go on to identify other gaps and lacks in what we know about this funding, but these three are enough to tell a significant amount of what’s missing, and to make my point about whether there is a fundamental unseriousness about what we are doing to address gender equality. The third point, in particular, that there is “no information about the results/impacts of the activities that are funded” kind of says it all about how much the intentions for this funding are being tracked to ensure the funding is being used for real gender equality outcomes.

These bullet points refer to SDGFunders as the source of the data, a product created by Candid to track funding for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The report goes on to discuss data from five other sources and the many data challenges and gaps that these sources present. The report also provides recommendations about how each of the six tools discussed can start gathering and tracking this data in a more useful way. From reading this report, you get a sense that there is clearly a long way to go.

Read the full report here.


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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