Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day.

Politicians, NGOs and activists are meeting in New York for the UN Commission on the Status of Women. Organisations all over the world are marking the occasion, drawing attention to important contributions to the gender equality movement.

At Publish What You Fund, we believe gender equality and aid effectiveness go hand-in-hand – which is why many women’s organisations backed our Make Aid Transparent campaign. And recently, UN Women became the 100th signatory of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).

IATI can help improve aid effectiveness, including in terms of gender equality. In the run up to the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011, the Women In Development Europe (WIDE) Network wrote to the EU saying:

“The EU needs to strengthen its own capacity and support partner countries to collect and use data disaggregated by sex, and make full use of them to inform policy decisions and guide financial resources in its development programmes.” (Sept 2011)

When all donors start publishing, IATI will allow up-to-date, comparable and detailed data that can be properly scrutinised for its contribution to gender equality. This will ultimately make the information more useful for those who need to know exactly what is being spent on gender equality, and where.

When compared to other aid statistic groupings, such as the OECD Creditor Reporting System (CRS), IATI has more detailed and useful classifications. For example, many activities in the CRS are marked as “gender equality” – but it’s hard to see whether this means anything more than a token nod towards “gender sensitivity”.  Because IATI provides more detailed information – particularly activity documents – it enables users of the data to check whether the use of this marker is really justified in each case. Donors can also choose to add in their own more detailed policy markers, in order to describe their data in the way that makes most sense to them.

As Executive Director of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet, recently said:

“Members of the public can see programme information in the countries where we work and the scope of what we are doing.  We are proud to be part of this aid transparency initiative to foster informed decision-making on international development work.”

So, happy International Women’s Day – and here’s hoping that in a few years, we’ll know exactly how much aid is spent by all donors on increasing gender equality.