Clinton Says Data Collection Push Will Boost Women’s Welfare

Hillary Clinton announced new initiatives to improve data collection and bolster gender equality, expanding a United Nations Foundation program she supported while she was U.S. secretary of state.

“When it comes to the lives of women and girls around the world, too much is not being measured,” Clinton, a possible 2016 candidate for president, said at the Partnering for a Gender Data Revolution event in New York. More reliable statistics could help “build a case strong enough to convince the skeptics” that women’s welfare “directly supports everyone’s security and prosperity.”

Clinton said a series of partnerships would boost data gathering about women and girls in six areas, including poverty levels, access to financial services and opportunities for employment. The partnerships are part of the Data2X initiative sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and others, including the Clinton Foundation. Started in 2012, its goal is improve the availability of statistics about women around the world to guide policy and spur economic and social progress.

One of the collaborations is with the World Bank and International Labor Organization, to measure women’s work and employment. Another is with the Global Banking Alliance for Women, to examine how banks underserve women as customers. There is an estimated $300 billion credit shortfall for women-owned businesses in emerging economies, a Data2X report shows.

One way Data2X numbers are already being used is to identify why women aren’t entering secondary schools at the same rate as men, said Jennifer Klein, a senior adviser to the Clinton Foundation. It and about 30 other groups, including the Brookings Institution, are backing a $600 million effort to help disadvantaged girls attend secondary school.

‘Broad Range’

Next year, Data2X numbers will be used to track change in child marriage rates over the past 20 years and show how country-specific policies have reduced forced marriages among boys and girls under 18 years old, said Rachel Vogelstein, director of women and girls programs at the Clinton Foundation. She said her team is working with groups including the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Economist Intelligence Unit to make statistics gathered in individual nations accessible and inclusive.

“That’s one of the important principles, making sure that this is country driven,” Vogelstein said. “It’s one of the reasons that we have such a broad range of partners.”

Heather Higginbottom, deputy U.S. Secretary of State for management and resources, said better data collection could help aid groups understand why HIV is more prevalent among women between the ages of 15 and 19 at rates three times higher than men of the same age.

Unpaid Labor

Unpaid labor women perform is widely underreported, according to Data2X findings. Clinton cited India, where women are doing an average of six hours of unpaid work outside the conventional economy every day. If they were introduced to the formal work force, the country’s gross domestic product could be $1.7 trillion higher, Clinton said.

“The economic facts are absolutely clear,” Clinton said. “Investing in women is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing,” and finding the right data can help target investments.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation also support the Data2X initiative. A sponsor of today’s conference was Bloomberg Philanthropies, founded by Michael Bloomberg, who is the majority shareholder of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.