Sex, age (and more) still matter: Data collection, analysis, and use in humanitarian practice

Mazurana, D., Marshak, A. and Spears, K.
Publication language
Date published
01 Feb 2023
Research, reports and studies
Data, Gender

Data has the power to transform how we see the world. Through big data collection and analysis, we are increasingly able to monitor health, poverty, education, gender equality, and climate change on a scale never seen. We have seen rapid advancement in the last 10 years in big data collection and analysis around the world. However, the humanitarian sector has remained painfully slow in keeping up with this trend. This report comes as we raise the alert on global gender equality backsliding and on the need for intensified focus on reversing that trend, for which accurate data is essential.

UN Women’s analysis of progress in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 5 (gender equality), estimates that at current rates it will take close to 300 years to achieve full gender equality. When we have information on people’s gender; age; disability; and sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) we can more effectively identify and reach the populations most in need.

This report reviews the progress that has been made, outlines barriers to further progress, and makes recommendations for humanitarian donors and actors to advance gender equality. It stresses the need at all levels to confront the continued lack of accountability that perpetuates heightened risks of discrimination, inequality, and gender-based violence for women and girls in crisis contexts. The additional implications of the intersectionality of sex, age, disability and diverse SOGIESC must also be examined through adequate collection, analysis, and use of disaggregated data in order to be fully understood. Only then will the full inclusion of women, girls, men, and boys in all their diversity, and at all levels of humanitarian action, be possible.