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Women remain in the shadows because 80% of key global gender data is missing

Reuters/Danish Ismail
Where is she?
By Shelly Walia
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

In 2012, the United Nations Economic and Social Council set down indicators—some 52 of them—crucial to measuring gender equality in any country. However, a new report has now found that globally we don’t have 80% of the necessary gender data on those indicators.

The data considered ranged from standard indicators such as sexual violence against women, maternal mortality ratio and literacy levels, to the less obvious ones such as the number of female police officers and judges. And this ”missing data” is proving to be a serious impediment to progress, given that policymakers, economists, and governments globally rely on annual data to track issues concerning women empowerment.

The US-based non-profit Bread for the World Institute’s report is based on annual country-level data for 52 gender indicators between 1990 and 2013. The prescribed indicators were put under five broader categories: Economic participation, human rights, health, education, and public life.

The breakdown of missing data from the developing world revealed that the sub-Saharan Africa was the worst when it came to data availability.

The nomenclature “missing data” is a despairing reminder of Indian economist Amartya Sen’s estimate of the “missing women,” whereby he calculated the number of women “missing” from the population in some places around the world due to different forms of deprivation. In the 1980s, he estimated that there were more than 100 million missing women worldwide.

“The data tool reveals an entire generation’s worth of progress, lack of progress, uneven progress, or setbacks that we cannot fully understand or assess because we don’t know very much about what happened,” Asma Lateef, director of the Bread for the World Institute, wrote in a recent oped. ”Local communities, governments and international partners lack many of the specifics that would help make their ongoing efforts more effective.”

Here are the 10 countries with the least data on women’s equality.

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