On 28th of November 2019 Plan International EU Office organised, with the support of the Finnish Presidency, a lunch event in Brussels together with Equal Measures 2030, an independent civil society and private sector-led partnership that connects data and evidence with advocacy and action, helping to fuel progress towards gender equality. Equal Measures 2030 presented its newly developed SDG Gender Index. The index gives a clear picture of where different regions of the world stand on gender equality and enabled the discussion on how the EU can strengthen its support to girls’ and women’s rights and unlock their potential. The different partners and stakeholders were able to discuss how the EU measures the effectiveness and the achievements of its Gender Action Plan (GAP) and how the index could possibly be of added value for the EU to live up to its commitment to the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.
This discussion takes place whilst the new College of European Commissioners is about to take office. Many tasks related to gender equality are on the EU’s agenda, such as the review of the implementation of the second EU Gender Action Plan (GAP II) and the negotiations regarding the next long-term EU budget (Multi-annual Financial Framework). Against this background, we call on the EU for tools that can strengthen its external action to support girls and women to better deliver on gender equality.
Equal Measures 2030 provides advocates and decision-makers with easy-to-use data and evidence to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focussing on gender equality. Their SDG Gender Index is a comprehensive tool to measure the state of gender equality, examining 14 of the 17 SDGs and covering 129 countries in five regions of the world. Data is collected on 51 issues ranging from education and skills, voice and participation, climate change and decent work. Moreover, the index also has disaggregated age data which makes it possible to differentiate between girls in different life stages. In fact, there is a great need for more data on girls below the age of 15 in order to make the picture more inclusive.
Capturing what the EU is doing for girls and women
During the event we discussed what the EU could draw from Equal Measures 2030’s SDG Gender Index. “The current GAP was a tremendous leap forward, it changed the way how we worked and our approach towards gender equality changed”, stated Francisco Garcia, Head of Sector for Gender and Non-Discrimination in European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO). Additionally, he emphasised the gender index is a useful tool to hold the EU accountable with regards to its external action and objective to advance gender equality. Alison Holder, Director of Equal Measures 2030, would like to see that the data available through the index to be used more frequently and effectively. They have introduced the Gender Advocates Data Hub; the go-to resource for data, visualizations and impact stories showcasing data-driven advocacy on gender equality issues across the SDGs. Policy-makers and advocates for gender equality all over the world can dip into these resources to support their work.
Including the most marginalised women and girls
Serap Altinisik, Head of Office of Plan International EU Office pointed out that currently, we are not in the position to tell a complete story because the GAP indicators are very much quantitative. This is why Plan International believes that we have to understand the quality of our actions and understand if these actions have a transformative impact on women and girls. “We have to understand the needs of women and girls. For that we need to adapt and that’s where the life cycle approach comes into play so that we are able to address the needs in the different stages of a woman’s life. For this reason, data has to be disaggregated according to gender, age, disability and ethnicity among other things”, explains Serap.
“We have to understand the needs of women and girls. For that we need to adapt and that’s where the life cycle approach comes into play so that we are able to address the needs in the different stages of a woman’s life.”
This index is an opportunity to fill the gaps on how to measure progress for women and girls. By using disaggregated data, it provides in particular relevant information for policy-makers, a more inclusive and accurate picture of the current state of gender equality worldwide today. These insights will allow policy-makers to design policy to respond to exactly what girls and women need to unlock their full potential.