Data gaps exist when countries do not produce enough data to report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. People who are most at risk of being left behind are also most affected by data gaps, since they are more likely to be under-represented or missed by the data. These include: women and girls, people who live in vulnerable situations, people with disabilities, refugee populations and many others. PARIS21 supports national statistical offices to build statistical systems that help countries have the data to make development work for all citizens.


What are data gaps and why are they a problem?

Data and statistics need to be detailed, granular and disaggregated in order for the conditions of different sectors of society to be understood, for example, showing sex, age, ethnicity, disability or the geographic areas they live in. However, most of the Sustainable Development Goals lack some of the data necessary to monitor progress, This creates blind spots for policy makers. For instance, understanding how women and men are affected differently and face different issues related to poverty, health, education, work, and many others.

Countries of all income levels across the world lack data. Data gaps exist for all of the SDGs, and hamper progress towards achieving them. For SDG 5 on gender equality, the picture is especially bleak, with less than half of the data available that are required to monitor progress.

By creating an inclusive data ecosystem, NSOs can tackle data gaps and increase the production and use of statistics, such as gender statistics.

How is PARIS21 working with NSOs and non-state actors to build more inclusive statistical systems?

PARIS21 and its partners have been working together to help countries address gender data gaps.  The map below shows how countries are tackling these gaps with PARIS21 support. The work includes: building a decentralised open data platform, supporting countries to mainstream gender statistics strategies in their plans and national statistical strategies, and providing platforms for country-level CSOs to help fill data gaps.

Equipping Data Ecosystems to leave no one behind, picture shows map of the world with countries: Dominican Republic, Morocco, Senegal, Maldives, Ecuador, Paraguay, Lesotho, Kenya

What impact has the work had?

Using citizen-generated data in Kenya

KNBS, sees a lot of value in alternative data sources. We are now methodologically prepared to evaluate these data sets and to look whether they can shed light on important data gaps that we have. 

Integrating gender in the national statistical strategy in the Maldives

"Inviting civil society and women’s rights advocates has advantages. They brought a lot of knowledge about gender issues and were able to shed light on where key data were missing."

Fathimath Riyaza, Gender Focal Point, Maldives National Bureau of Statistics

Modernising Paraguay's national statistical system

"Through this work we can understand, for example, the issues of women and all the public policies that Paraguay is carrying out on this issue”

Iván Ojeda, National Director of INE.

Using new technology to help find people living in poverty in Colombia

A poverty estimate used daytime satellite imagery to estimate nighttime light intensity and then compared this to actual nighttime light intensity. Grid level data enabled the poverty estimates to be much more granular. This method saw poverty estimates increase 70 fold, from 1 123 data points to 78 000 data points. This information allows the government to formulate and implement policies that focus on the most vulnerable people.


More resources

PARIS21 NSDS Gender data module


1. Are we on track to achieve gender equality by 2030? | UN Women Data Hub

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