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Vital Stories

Data in Action: Accelerating Gender Equity and Inclusion

To mark International Women’s Day, we are highlighting the pivotal role of data in advancing gender equity and #InspiringInclusion. High-quality, comprehensive data is essential for effective public policy and key to realizing a gender-equal world. Yet, globally, a vast number of vital events—nearly 45 million deaths and over 50 million births—go unrecorded each year, especially in low- and middle-income countries. This “scandal of invisibility” disproportionately affects women, with nearly 45% in low-income countries who cannot prove their legal identity and are therefore denied basic rights and protections.

The challenge in achieving gender equity is compounded by entrenched system inefficiencies in national data infrastructure and utilization, leaving many governments without critical data. The data gap is especially pronounced among hard-to-reach populations, especially women who have limited access to health care and resources. Moreover, without accurate, inclusive data, it is impossible for governments to identify health disparities, develop effective health policies, or allocate resources strategically and equitably.

By strengthening civil registration systems and enhancing data use, we are working toward a world where all women are counted and included.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies Data for Health Initiative at Vital Strategies supports governments to turn high-quality data into action. We partner with governments to mainstream gender into health systems and data use, promoting policies that are transformative and inclusive. Through a multifaceted approach, the Initiative empowers governments to leverage high-quality data, supporting health policies and programs that are not only effective but also include diverse gender identities and experiences. Read on to learn about Vital Strategies’ work to put data into action.

Supervising Public Health Midwives Receiving Certificates after a Gender-Based Violence Workshop by the Ministry of Health in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, our efforts focus on civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) enhancement and data-driven policy actions, as well as support to address gender inequality. Within the scope of CRVS activities, using the medicolegal death investigation system to assess the prevalence of gender-based violence and femicide stands out as a significant endeavor. A workshop on Gender-Based Violence for Supervising Public Health Midwives empowered midwives to take on active leadership roles in identifying gender-based violence at the community level and advocating for supportive and preventive strategies.

Women watch a video with real-life scenarios that show the importance of birth, marriage, and death certificates in accessing education, benefits and property.

In Cameroon, a partnership between the Data for Health Initiative’s Data Impact program and the Ministry of Public Health is working toward the equitable integration of gender indicators into the national health information system, highlighting the importance of monitoring women’s health and including gender in public health policymaking and planning.

In Mozambique and Tanzania, we are collaborating with cancer registrars to evaluate cervical cancer screening programs to strengthen data linkages within the cancer registry program. By addressing gaps in cancer surveillance, targeted interventions can improve access to gender-sensitive health services and reduce the burden of gender-specific cancers.

Data collectors in Liberia gather data on sexual and reproductive health, including abortion, from health facility records in Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu and Rivercess counties.

In Mali, Nigeria and Liberia, we are strengthening data collection and use related to women’s health through the Global Grants Program. After the partial passage of a new public health law that liberalizes access to a more complete spectrum of reproductive health services, our partners in Liberia are gathering evidence on sexual and reproductive health to develop more inclusive programs as well as guidelines for abortion and post-abortion care.

As we celebrate this year’s theme for International Women’s Day, Inspire Inclusion, we reaffirm our commitment to promoting gender equity in public health and to harnessing the power of data as a catalyst for change. By embedding gender considerations into every aspect of data collection, analysis and policymaking, Vital Strategies’ Data for Health team is working to build more inclusive and equitable health systems, where the needs and rights of all people are upheld and respected.

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