Ideas + Outputs

Since 2016, our team has undertaken gender data projects across the Sustainable Development Goals and in all major world regions. Don’t see the SDG you care about listed here? Send us a note to chat about collaborating.


Thanks to Jake Nelson for this graphic!

Our researchers are also research communicators. Here are a few of our favourite data-driven outputs.

Opinion editorial, The Star.

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Is lack of data really all that’s holding women and girls back? Persistent levels of gender-based violence, and ongoing inequality in political representation, on which the data has been clear for decades, suggest that progress on gender equality requires something additional: the sharing of power–and political will. Read more about our reflections from Women Deliver 2019 in Vancouver, British Columbia, here.

Opinion editorial, BRIGHT Magazine.
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May 28 is Menstrual Hygiene Day, which offers us an opportunity to talk about a less visible experience of conflict: the challenge of managing a period in contexts where women and girls’ bodies may not have been meaningfully considered. There is a significant data gap in our understanding of the specific kinds of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) challenges women and girls face in humanitarian contexts. While menstruation is a biological function, the stigma and embarrassment surrounding it are not. Read more here.

Opinion editorial, BRIGHT Magazine.

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Governments, donors, nonprofits, and social entrepreneurs globally are investing in conditional cash transfer programs to break cycles of poverty, build human capital, and meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is a lot of experimental research showing that conditionalities effectively generate demand for health and education services. But women’s actual experiences of meeting conditionalities show that we’re collecting the wrong data. Read more here.

Social Protection Systems and Access to Public Services in the Age of Conditionality. Expert Paper  prepared for CSW63.

In preparation for the 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women, UN Women convened an Expert Group Meeting on the priority theme: “Social protection systems, public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality” in New York, 13 to 15 September 2018.

This Expert Paper synthesizes global evidence from low, middle and high-income countries on the gendered impacts of conditionality, and discusses the policy responses required to advance women’s rights. Read it online here.

Unjust Conditions: Women’s Work and the Hidden Cost of Cash Transfer Programs. University of California Press.


This study looks beyond routine monitoring and evaluation to follow the lives and caring labours of poor mothers in rural Peru as they participate in what The Economist called “the world’s favourite new anti-poverty program.”

“Cookson’s book is a most welcome contribution to our understanding of the social relations in cash transfer programs. This book has important lessons for policymakers and scholars alike and joins the debates over how to improve program design and implementation.”—Maxine Molyneux,  author, The Social and Political Potential of Cash Transfers

Read it online here.

The Impact of Periods. Stanford Social Innovation Review.

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Why should we change social norms around menstruation? And what impact could this have on how international development and global health is funded, practiced, and experienced?

This opinion editorial, co-authored with awesome NGO Days for Girls,  shows why supporting menstrual health is critical to women’s empowerment around the world. Read it here.

Women Migrant Workers in the ASEAN Economic Community. UN Women.

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Based on mixed-methods research including field studies across Southeast Asia, this report shows that women’s economic empowerment depends on more more than the availability of work.

Access to social protection, child care services, and women’s organizations are critical to promoting and strengthening women’s rights in the context of labour migration.  Read the full report and recommendations here.

Why Legislation is Not Enough. Plan International.

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Institutional and legal frameworks designed to protect women and girls’ human rights have seen many advances in breaking the silence and impunity around gender-based violence.

This brief analyzes whether these frameworks can transform deeply rooted inequalities in Guatemala. It also showcases best practices and recommendations being made by girls’ and women’s rights groups for targeting institutional and cultural drivers of violence. Read it here.

The Unseen Gender Impact of Conditionality. UNDP IPC-IG.

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Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) are among the most widely evaluated social programs on the planet. But few evaluations use a gender analysis to look at how implementation  processes impact women beneficiaries. This policy brief discusses “shadow conditions,” extra program requirements that are not officially mandated, explains how these arise during policy implementation, and how they can be prevented to improve gender equitable outcomes. Read it in English, Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Digital Technology for Health Sector Governance in Low- and Middle-Income Countries. Journal of Global Health.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 8.41.48 AMMobile phones and other information and  communication technologies (ICTs) increasingly promote bottom-up  “good governance” of services. But do they make services more equitable? This study reviews ICT use cases from across the globe, from a project in Peru mobilizing support for survivors of sexual and reproductive health violence, to the use of electronic cash registers in Kenya to improve transparency. Read it here.