As the long balmy days of summer slowly get shorter and there is a cool gentle breeze in the evenings, I look back at the first half of our 10th anniversary year and contemplate what lies ahead for Giving Women.
We enjoyed a rich programme of events, growing our knowledge, building our awareness of the issues facing girls and women globally while also developing our competences and skills to help our projects become more effective and impactful. Our workshops covered a wide range of subjects including financial advice for projects, the use of data for monitoring and evaluation, and how we can be good mentors to our project directors. We held several excellent panel discussions on systemic change, women and climate change, and activism for a more ethical fashion industry.
The theme of today’s blog is Data for Impact. The importance of data collection has been recognized as invaluable for accurate and useful monitoring and evaluation. However, three organizations with which Giving Women has worked are using data gathered from the field to inform their strategy for a greater sustainable impact.
Barefoot College was an early Giving Women Project Circle. Together we brought solar electricity to two villages in Zanzibar training four solar mammas to install and manage the solar power. Meagan Falone, the pioneering and charismatic CEO of Barefoot College, explains how Barefoot College is increasingly using data in two distinct ways:
1. To more accurately assess data in rural last mile communities across the economic spectrum and access to basic services. This is based on 10 years of realising our in depth data gathering was yielding dramatically different facts than the often widely published data on these profiles of households. Thus, in crafting programs and interventions designed for maximum impact and individual participation it has become essential to enable last mile gathering of high quality data BY and THROUGH women in the communities we seek to serve.
2. This has then led to a more proactive and predictive assessment of which communities will most benefit and leverage our interventions based on the social and economic data gathered.
The move to more analytical and strategic selection of target areas and populations for the Barefoot College International Programs has become essential to enabling smoother and faster scale, adoption and adhesion. We also feel a deep responsibility to our donors to provide them with intelligent selections of targeted areas such that their investment is yielding maximum social returns.
Educate Girls’ mission is to leverage existing community and Government resources to ensure that all girls are in school and learning well. Established in 2007, Educate Girls has operated successfully in over 13,000 rural villages, by mobilizing a workforce of committed volunteers to get girls into school, helping them to maintain their educational standards and achieve a retention rate of 95%.
To realise their vision and achieve behavioral, social and economic transformation for all girls towards an India where all children have equal opportunities to access quality education, Educate Girls under the visionary leadership of Safeena Hussein has recognized the power of advanced analytics to reveal exactly where the problem of out-of-school girls is most concentrated. This data can guide smart strategies to target those areas. Educate Girls, has built a predictive model that shows just 5% of the country’s villages are home to 40% of the out-of-school girl population — a staggering 1.6 million girls who aren’t currently in school. With support from The Audacious Project, Educate Girls will focus on those specific villages, and deliver a significant blow to almost half of India’s elementary education gender gap in just five years.
Operation Fistula is a recent Giving Women Project. The vision of Operation Fistula is to end obstetric fistula for all women everywhere.
The first and most urgent part of their mission is to effectively resource and fund local surgeons so that they can operate swiftly and effectively on women with obstetric fistula. Operation Fistula realized that to achieve their vision, they would need to create systems to support and encourage collaboration. Operation Fistula knew that having a shared measurement system for those working to end fistula could be the key to leveraging this sector-wide collaboration. As a result of this, they worked to create an automated registry system: GOFAR – the Global Obstetric Fistula Automated Registry. GOFAR is an amalgamation of cutting edge, private sector business intelligence tools that enables the collection and analysis of data from remote environments. It’s also an incredible mechanism for collaboration. With this data collection tool Operation Fistula is able to gain unprecedented insight into the incidence, distribution, and management of obstetric fistula. Just as with Barefoot Collection, Operation Fistula saw the collection of data from the field as an essential part of the work to create a targeted and deep systems change strategy.
For deep systemic and sustainable change to happen Operation Fistula is looking to understand the causes that lead women and girls to suffer with fistula. Operation Fistula believes that obstetric fistula only happens in areas where systems have failed to serve women and girls; where girls do not have the opportunity to complete school, where there is child marriage and early pregnancy, where access to medical support is almost non-existent, where FGM is practiced, and the list sadly goes on.
To truly achieve their vision, we have to eliminate the cause, and target the areas where women are most vulnerable, and where there is systemic gender inequality. To do this Operation Fistula has developed their Map Vulnerability programme.
The launch project of the Map Vulnerability program is a collaborative data-visualization initiative called Visualize Gender Equality. The goal of the project is to empower a global community of advocates, working to end gender equality. Using Tableau Software – a tool which enables data to be visually presented and processed – the project will drive forward collective impact, advocacy, and action to end gender inequality.
The common thread in all these examples is the importance of collaboration and the sharing of grassroot data using simple technology to develop targeted strategy to effect systemic change.
— Atalanti Moquette, Giving Women Founder