The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a commitment of $80 million (about N15.8billion) towards accelerating progress of women and girls in order to close widening gender data gaps.
In a statement, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Lagos, the foundation said that the funding would run for the next three years, to help accelerate the progress for women and girls around the world.
The statement quoted Melinda Gates, co-chair of the foundation as announcing the commitment at the “Women Deliver Conference’’ held on May 17 in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Gates was quoted as saying that the foundation was making the commitment because it believed that a reliable gender data was important for accelerating development outcomes.
“Data holds power and demonstrates the size and nature of social or economic problems, and brings clarity around who is falling through the cracks.
“Through reliable data, women and girls’ lives can become visible and counted, helping to inform programming and hold leaders to account.
“ However, a lack of comprehensive, current information about women and girls, especially in developing countries, hinders efforts to advance gender equality,’’ Gates was quoted as saying.
Gates further said that if the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) must be reached by 2030, the world must advance its knowledge about women and girls’ lives, their livelihoods, their welfare and well-being and their contributions to their communities, countries and economies.
“By adopting the SDGs, the world agreed to achieve gender equality by 2030. But we cannot close the gender gap without first closing the data gap.
“We simply do not know enough about the barriers holding women and girls back, nor do we have sufficient information to track progress against the promises made to women and girls.
“We are committed to changing that by investing in better data, policies and accountability,’’ she said.
According to the foundation`s co-chair, the $80 million commitment will be channelled to helping fill critical gender gaps, improving the accuracy and reliability of data collection and supporting civil society in holding leaders to account.
Gates added that the foundation’s commitment would also help equip decision makers with more timely and clearer evidence about programmes and interventions that were working and those that were not, so that they could be redesigned quickly and more effectively.
She said that the fund would also be used to amplify and strengthen organisations and platforms that keep gender equality at the centre of global and national development efforts. (NAN)