5 June 2015: The post-2015 process offers an historic opportunity to change the lives of the world’s adolescent girls. But if we are to achieve the transformative agenda defined by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it must include ambitious indicators that effectively measure the real impact of policies, strategies, and practices to ensure that the post-2015 agenda accounts for the most vulnerable and marginalised populations, particularly adolescent girls.
Though all forms of data, including indicators and collection methods, have significantly improved, there is still a persistent tendency to measure only the easiest-to-measure parts of necessarily complex targets. The SDG process offers, however, a unique moment to abandon this inclination and embrace a more determined approach that ensures the most vulnerable benefit from this comprehensive agenda.
The transformative SDG agenda is bold. Its indicators should be, too.
The Girl Declaration Joint Advocacy Group recommends the following principles for data collection and use, as well as the following minimum set of core indicators as essential to ensure that the lives of adolescent girls are properly and holistically understood, and that adolescent girls have access to the programmes, services and care they require, as well as have the ability to exercise the full range of their human rights.
Principles for ambitious indicators
- All targets require indicators and some may require multiple indicators, which should not be arbitrarily limited.
- Indicators should measure the more complex aspects of each target, not just the easiest to evaluate, or be based on what is currently being measured.
- Indicators should include both quantitative and qualitative measures, and should include measures of policy, legal, structural, behavioral and normative change.
- Capacity development, including adequate resourcing, for national mechanisms and organisations to collect data on new and updated indicators must be built into the post-2015 framework in order to ensure progress can be adequately tracked. Specifically, capacity development for proper and ethical collection and analysis of gender-related data should be prioritised.
- There must be scope for further development of the indicator framework in the coming years, in particular, for updating indicators as global and national capacity for collecting complex data develops and as contexts change. As such, research and development of the indicator framework should remain open after the 47th Session of the Statistical Commission.
- Crucially and at a minimum, data should be disaggregated on the basis of: age in 5-year bands, sex, geography, income, disability, marital status, race and ethnicity and other factors as relevant to monitoring inequalities. It is critical for understanding the lives of adolescent girls that indicators are disaggregated by age by sex.
Financing ambitious indicators
The Financing for Development process also presents a significant opportunity to invest in and improve data collection and usability, particularly in gender statistics. Improving gender statistics and disaggregating data are smart and necessary investment strategies that will facilitate sustainable development.
- The production of timely and quality gender statistics must be a policy and budgetary priority for governments, as well as regional and international institutions. Data are a public good and national budgets must have an allocated provision for the collection and analysis of gender-focused statistics.
- To monitor the SDGs, national statistical offices (NSOs) must be adequately resourced and strengthened to be functionally autonomous and transparent in order to produce consistent, reliable, and high-quality data that are independent, protected, and accountable.
- There must be dedicated resources to improve data literacy in country, particularly around gender data, and to encourage accountability and the use of data by all, including civil society and citizens.
- Support for strengthening NSOs should come from a coordinated effort by governments, regional and international institutions, donors, and civil society.