“[Recently,] Equal Measures 2030 (EM2030) launched the ‘Are We There Yet?’ calculator: a new online tool that aims to bridge the gap between people and governments on ambitious gender equality action by 2030. The tool highlights gender equality progress, and lack thereof, across five issues and 129 countries.” Read the press release here.
EM2030 is an initiative that should be supported and encouraged. Statistics have a fundamental role in the development of public policies. Conducting qualitative and quantitative studies that engage with a feminist perspective reveals shared patterns in the lived experience of women and marginalised groups. Statistics give a tangible reality to social problems. A problem whose magnitude and impact can be measured is an issue we can address with adequate public policies. Therefore, providing statistics with a feminist lens is a key factor to tackle gender inequalities and enforce suitable public policies. In the absence of gender-based statistics to measure the actual situation of women, men and gender non-conforming people as well as their roles in social, economic, health and political life, we have limited capacity to assess progress towards achieving gender equality. Consequently, a lack of feminist data leads to gender-blind public policies1 and a lack of targeted actions towards marginalised groups.
Moreover, bringing a feminist perspective in statistics enables us to raise awareness of gender inequalities by creating strong data-driven advocacy tools. Through its user-friendly platform, EM2030 establishes the picture of women’s rights in 129 countries around 5 subjects: access to modern family planning, girls’ completion of secondary education, senior government positions held by women, laws on workplace equality and women’s perception of public safety. With this accessible tool, EM2030 brilliantly enlightens the lived experience of women all around the world, how far we are from reaching effective gender equality, and subsequently provides ready-to-use data and evidence to guide efforts to reach gender equality.
The intersection of different structures of inequality is different than the sum of their discriminatory parts
Gender mainstreaming is another example of a gender-based data-driven tool commonly used to analyse the policy-making process. As the European Institute for Gender Equality explains, gender mainstreaming is important for various reasons: “[it] ensures that policy-making and legislative work is of higher quality and has a greater relevance for society, because it makes policies respond more effectively to the needs of all citizens – women and men, girls and boys. Gender mainstreaming makes public interventions more effective and ensures that inequalities are not perpetuated.” A third example is the “handistreaming” perspective, recently introduced in Belgium. In the same way as for gender mainstreaming, the aim is to integrate a disability-based analysis into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, regulatory measures and spending programmes, with a view to promoting equality and combating discrimination.
Going beyond the traditional gender-based analysis
While these mechanisms are very useful to analyse past, current and future public policies, a question arises: is it possible to take this a step further to include an intersectional lens in public policies? Instead of looking at policies through single or typically favoured categories of analysis (gender and socioeconomic status), intersectionality based analysis (IBA) enables decision-makers to take into account simultaneous interactions between different markers of identity as well as the impact of systems and processes of oppression and domination at every step of the process. The traditional gender-based analysis method fails to recognize the multiple dimensions of inequalities experienced by a social group. Many scholars, such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Djamila Ribeiro to name a few, have shown how race-based policies can exclude women on the one hand and how gender-based policies can exclude women of colour on the other hand. Furthermore, a cumulative approach of discrimination is not sufficient insofar as identities are interconnected and inseparable, and not just added to one another (the intersection of different structures of inequality is different than the sum of their discriminatory parts). An intersectional-based analysis allows marginalised groups to be at the centre of the policy process and acknowledge their full and multiple identity.
In a nutshell, gender-based statistics and intersectionality based analysis lead to more accurate analysis of social problems and allow more efficient policy decisions to address complex lived experiences of discrimination.
Whilst there is still room to improve the accuracy of data and add an intersectional perspective, EM2030’s work is crucial and needs to be highlighted and shared to reflect on countries’ recent progress on access to contraception, girls’ education, political leadership, workplace equality laws, and personal safety, and how far we are from effective equality.
1 Failure to recognise that the roles and responsibilities of women/girls and men/boys are ascribed to, or imposed upon, them in specific social, cultural, economic and political contexts. (https://eige.europa.eu/thesaurus/terms/1157)
Lieber, M. (2011). Ce qui compte et ce qui ne compte pas : usages des statistiques et violences faites aux femmes. Cahiers du Genre, S2, 157-177. https://doi.org/10.3917/cdge.hs02.0157
Hankivsky, O. (2012). The lexicon of mainstreaming equality: gender-based analysis, gender and diversity analysis, intersectionality-based analysis. Canadian Political Science Review, Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 2012, 171-183. https://ojs.unbc.ca/index.php/cpsr/article/view/278