Embedded within the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a host of gender-relevant indicators relating to issues such as education, work and employment, and peace and justice. But the data needed to inform these indicators is often incomplete, and sometimes missing entirely, says Deirdre Appel, a research associate with Open Data Watch (ODW).
SDG 5 relates specifically to gender equality, but speaking at the RSS Conference on Tuesday morning, Appel identified more than 50 separate indicators across the gamut of SDGs that call for evaluation of the different experiences of men and women.
Of those indicators, only a fifth fit the definition of 'tier 1' – meaning the necessary data is available as well as accompanying standards. About half are at 'tier 2', meaning some data is on hand. But a third are in the 'tier 3' category, with no data available.
Rather than 'just poke holes', Appel said ODW is working to fill these gaps. Sometimes the issue relates to a lack of statistical capacity in countries; sometimes the data is present but is not made open or available. So, ODW’s strategy is to raise the profile of this data, to build partnerships where necessary and to work to achieve sustainable funding and openness.
In the UK, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is making decent progress in meeting reporting requirements for SDG 5 – and Claudia Wells, head of sustainability and environment, walked delegates through some of the interesting gender disparities that exist within the data, including that women tend to live longer than men and are at less risk of suicide, but that female households are at more risk of poverty than male households.
She also highlighted one disparity that has been discussed frequently in recent months: the differences in pay between men and women. The headline result, according to the ONS, is that in 2017 'men on average were paid £1.32 more per hour than women, which, as a proportion of men’s pay, is a pay gap of 9.1%'. Further research suggests that about a third of the gender pay gap can be explained by differences in occupations and working patterns. However, that leaves two-thirds unexplained by the model that was used. Other unaccounted for factors, like education and childcare responsibilities, might be at play, said Wells – but so might discrimination.
- Deirdre Appel and Claudia Wells were speaking as part of the session, 'Exploring the gender data gap'.