Only through focus on collecting and analysing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and programme decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems.
Thus Unicef Zimbabwe, partnering with Zimbabwe Youth Council, are using U-Report, an innovative tool that is youth focused to gather the most pressing issues that affect girls in Zimbabwe.
The collected data is then analysed and relayed to the responsible duty bearers for action to deliver results that ensure positive outcomes for girls.
This year the nation joins the rest of the globe in commemorating the International Day of the Girl (11 October 2016) today and the theme is Girls' Progress = Goals' Progress: What Counts for Girls. While we can applaud the ambition and potential of the SDGs for girls, and recognise how girls' progress is good not only for girls, but also for families, communities and society at large, we must also take this opportunity to consider how existing gaps in data on girls and young women lack of systematic analysis, and limited use of existing data significantly constrain our ability to monitor and communicate the well-being and progress of nearly half of humanity.
Through innovation, Zimbabwe is making headway in ensuring that girls' concerns and participation in key decision making processes are recognised. Young girls, through the use of U-Report, are enabling key organisations like UNICEF, UNFPA, SAYWHAT, Plan International and others to programme effective interventions that help girls realise their full potential through harnessing their thoughts and voices.
There is notable improvement in data collection efforts for often under-counted groups, such as data on sexual violence against adolescent girls, girls with disabilities and young girls in marginalised and remote communities. Through the polls often generated by U-Report (SMS) based platform, we are now able to harness 'big data' and technology to close the gender gap in areas where progress for girls is often difficult to measure due to the issue of the sensitivity of data volumes. Through the use of U-Report we are now able to analyse girl's opinions on key development issues on our social media sites.
To advance the rights of girls, the nation needs to invest in the global data movement through piloting and scaling-up innovative real-time data platforms to monitor and adapt programming for girls. This will ensure that girls are active participants in programme design and that programmes achieve the most impactful results.
The data we need on girls and women does not exist yet, is incomplete or is not being compiled effectively. We are making efforts to disaggregate data on boys and girls along other dimensions, for example (age, location e.t.c) to better understand exactly which children and adolescents are most disadvantaged and where. Through access to clear information, we can identify where action needs to be taken so that girls can truly enjoy their rights to survive, learn, decide and thrive.
A number of girls are left invisible due to lack of data, thus through the U-Report platform, as we are collecting data on girls, we are partnering Government in fighting child marriages and early pregnancies that lead to thousands of maternal deaths.
The data revolution that has engulfed the world can spill out positive results for girls if it is managed efficiently. Girls in remote parts of the country can benefit from this massive dissemination of data in real-time which can enable them to make critical decisions during times of crisis, for example during humanitarian emergencies like that of the El Nino-induced drought.
Through access to the Internet of Things on low costs, girls who are hard to reach are able to interact with others and share critical information which can improve their well-being. This is evidenced through group discussions like those funded by UNFPA Zimbabwe known as Sister 2 Sister where adolescent girls gather to share critical advice on various key issues such as sexual reproductive health rights.
By Courage Nyamhunga
Source: The Herald (AllAfrica.com)