How Facebook helping to close the gender data gap

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Much of the data available today is gender blind and does not represent the differences that have existed/exist in men's and women's lives. Now Facebook is taking a step in the direction of starting to contribute to the UN's sustainable development goals for 2030 - with the mission of reducing the gap around gender data.

A few weeks ago Facebook released information on how they had been starting to work on The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. Goal #17 is to increase partnerships among different businesses to strengthen the progress of sustainable development work all over the world through exchanging knowledge that can generate long-term success. Their first area of focus is goal #5 that revolves around achieving gender equality. They hope that their effort and involvement in this matter will become an asset for the development of access and relegation of gender-based data that has previously been difficult to track.

The problems with gender blind data

Most of the data that today is available is gender blind and therefor not representing the differences that has been or still is between women and men. This results in a non fair and accurate picture of what women’s experiences have been through the years and therefore also shows an incomplete picture of history. It also leads to an inability to measure progress at the rate we are moving forward because the data backwards in time is incorrect and therefore not measurable against today’s.


Facebook´s commitments 

Facebook is making commitments by their collaboration with development organizations, researchers, experts and other partners in the field of gender equality in order to be able to increase the accessibility of existing gender data, utilize the data flow that the platform possesses and to be able to answer research questions to help the development forward.

At first, Facebook initiated a collaboration with an independent research organization named Ladysmith to get help conducting interviews and reviewing academic research that could form a report summarizing how various technology companies can help the development and strengthen access to gender data. The report showed a lack of communication between various tech companies and gender equality organizations. It therefore calls for increased cooperation between them in order to gradually reduce the ignorance that exists in the field.

Another way of doing this is to supplement their existing “Data for good” work with additional information on gender data. After asking some of their partners in the project which of their data services would bring the most value broken down by gender, they answered Facebook’s “displacement maps” that already shares real-time data on population movement around the world to determine community-specific needs in crisis situations were an excellent service to supplement the gender data with.

In addition, Facebook has also merged with “The world bank group” and “EqualMeasures2030” and created a survey with a focus on gender equality. They have also teamed up with other technology and research organizations to create new tools that, for educational purposes, share information about how unconventional data sets can be used in gender development projects.

Facebook also says that they are aware that it will requires more than gender data to achieve Goal # 5 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, but that this is an important step in the right direction to hopefully paves the way for other organizations within the tech industry to follow.

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