How can data play a role in helping women rise to positions of power?
This was one of the key questions discussed by a panel of distinguished speakers at an event to launch the EJS Center’s Data Hub for Women’s Leadership in Public Governance, during which H.E. Monica Geingos, First Lady of Namibia and EJS Center Board Member, delivered opening remarks.
The speakers included Prof. J. Jarpa Dawuni, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science, Howard University; Ebere Ifendu, Gender Advocate, and President of WIPF Nigeria; Dr. Joseph Asunka, CEO, Afrobarometer; Linet Miriti-Otieno, Chief Gender Expert, African Development Bank; and Rumbidzai Chisenga, Director of Programs, EJS Center. Michelle Morse, the United Nations Foundation‘s Vice President for Girls and Women Strategy joined the event, while the EJS Center’s Executive Director, Dr. Ophelia Inez Weeks delivered the closing remarks. The panel was moderated by Amujae Leader Yawa Hansen-Quao.
Noting that the African continent lacks reliable and comprehensive data sources on women’s public leadership, Ms. Geingos commended the EJS Center’s determination to fill this gap:
“Where many may have seen a crisis, the EJS Center has seen an opportunity and, over the course of the last six months, has designed and built the first Data Hub of its kind focused exclusively on women’s leadership in Africa. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.”
The EJS Center’s tireless work to champion women’s representation at the highest levels of public leadership was the main drive behind its decision to create the Data Hub. This tool tracks, collates, and shares data on women’s inclusion in the public leadership sphere, said Ms. Chisenga.
She added that the launch of the Data Hub responds to the urgency of closing the global gender gap in politics. This innovative tool, Ms. Chisenga argued, makes reliable information widely accessible “so that we can all participate in the work of driving change.”
Professor Dawuni and Dr. Asunka agreed that the Data Hub will be invaluable for informing research and policymaking, as well as for guiding the path toward greater representation of women in public governance across the continent.
Asked by Ms. Hansen-Quao about her experience using the Data Hub and her thoughts about the role it could play in advancing women’s political participation, Ms. Ifendu said that it is a unique “comparative analysis” tool for activists and policymakers who want to draw lessons from the surveyed African countries. It will help create a strong network of well-informed African women who can push women’s political representation forward.
Noting the role the Data Hub can play in guiding policy dialogue, Ms. Miriti-Otieno argued that it meets a crucial need for data from the public sector to “show the linkage between women’s leadership and better progress.” This data will help shape policies in favor of greater representation in Africa, she added.
Ms. Morse underscored the importance of using accurate and reliable data to identify problems and gaps around women’s representation in politics:
“Good data does for gender equality what wind does for a sailboat—it makes the forward progress possible. We need it to get where we want to go.”
Women’s leadership, she added, is a catalyst for political and social change. It is therefore important to “to act on what shows us” in order to drive this change forward.
In her closing remarks, Dr. Weeks noted that the EJS Center has created a paradigm shift in the data landscape in Africa by offering a tool that overcomes accessibility, availability, and dissemination barriers.
“The EJS Center’s data is intended to help break those barriers. It’s intended to empower, to enrich, to enable, to equip, and to inform.”
Click here to explore the EJS Center Data Hub.