Saturday, June 19, 2021

Scarcity of Covid-19 sex-disaggregated data undercuts women policies

Botswana is among countries in the world which are publishing inadequate data disaggregated by sex, thereby weakening and undercutting policies meant to support women. 

This claim was made by Open Data Inventory (ODIN) which assesses the coverage and openness of official statistics to identify gaps, promote open data policies and improve access by national statistical offices.

ODIN notes that Botswana and majority of the countries in southern Africa “still struggle to publish gender data and many of the same countries are unable to provide sex-disaggregated data on the covid-19 pandemic” and other societal issues.

Gender data refers to data that is disaggregated by sex or that measures conditions and events that have a bearing on the welfare of women and their children. ODIN states that such data at national level is “used to identify specific needs, formulate policies to address shortcomings, and monitor their impact on women and their families.”

Senior data analyst at Open Data Watch and co-author of the report, Lorenz Noe drew attention to the fact that the scarcity of sex-disaggregated information on these topics weakens and undercuts policies meant to support women.

In their assessment, ODIN notes that Botswana is pegged 105th out of 187 in the Open Data Inventory and 3rd out of 5 countries surveyed in Southern Africa. Although ODIN states that Botswana scores highest in social statistics and lowest in economic statistics, they note that “low-income countries continue to need more support with capacity building and financial resources to overcome the barriers to publishing open data”.

ODIN scores are represented on a range between 0 and 100, with 100 representing the best performance on open data. Botswana’s median overall score for 2020/21 is 47. With a score of 47, it means Botswana’s data in this category fulfils some ODIN coverage/openness criteria, “but many important gaps remain”.

The report also states in clear cut terms that the availability of gender specific data does not always translate to progress on gender equality. As an example, the report states that some poor regions in Africa face great difficulty when trying to publish sex-disaggregated data, while many Middle Eastern countries publish such data in some detail, despite ranking low on indexes of women’s rights.

Botswana scored lowest in the crime & justice category with an overall score of 40.  “Frequent and accurate reporting of crime statistics is needed to halt the epidemic of femicide and violence against women,” states the report.

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