Launch of new report for improving funding transparency for Women’s Economic Empowerment
Publish What You Fund has spent two years conducting detailed and innovative research to track funding to women’s economic empowerment (WEE), women’s financial inclusion (WFI), women’s empowerment collectives (WECs), and to assess funders’ gender integration. Our aim was to provide greater insights into the funding landscape to support policymakers, funders, and gender advocates.
Our research demonstrated that a granular analysis of WEE funding is possible. Looking at international funding to Kenya, Nigeria and Bangladesh, our country reports outline top funders, which aspects of WEE received funding, which groups of women funders aim to support, and whether WEE was funded as a primary objective or a sub-component of a broader development programme.
Another aim of our project was to improve the transparency of funding – to make it easier for others to track funding for WEE and gender equality and to understand its impact.
Our research highlighted limitations to existing datasets that currently prevent a deeper understanding of the funding picture. We have described these data limitations and provided evidence-based recommendations for how funders can improve their reporting and publication in our new report ‘Improving Funding Transparency for Women’s Economic Empowerment’.
Quality, consistent, and accessible data is an essential part of transparent and accountable funding. Transparent funding data, combined with engagement, is critical to:
- Ensuring that WEE projects meet the goals of local stakeholders and that funders are accountable to local needs;
- Improving coordination amongst funders, helping to avoid duplication, and identify gaps;
- Improving decision making and collaboration amongst key stakeholders to ensure funding goes to what needs to be prioritised;
- Contribute to learnings on what works to advance WEE.
In this report we reflect on the kinds of granular analysis that could be conducted using the available data as well as the main data limitations and gaps in reporting which prevent a deeper understanding of international funding to WEE. One of the clear gaps was the availability of results data.
There are clear gaps in results data for WEE funding
Results data encompasses objectives, outcomes, evaluations, and impact studies. To understand how well funders are reporting on results data, we analysed a sample of our projects. We analysed projects that supported women’s groups and WECs. Out of 116 projects across Bangladesh, Kenya, and Nigeria we found that only three projects provided a project completion review specifying results whilst nine projects reported on achieved outcomes or results, albeit in varying detail. Often these documents were found on the IATI d-portal project page or on the funder’s own portal. As it stands currently only IATI allows funders to upload supplementary documents. Out of the projects with published information we could gather basic information such as the number of individuals reached. The project completion reviews often contained both quantitative and qualitative information and included more detail such as changes that occurred in the lives of individuals and the strengths and shortcomings of different strategies employed in the whole life cycle. The low reporting of results data to centralised databases echoes the Publish What You Fund 2022 Aid Transparency Index results, which found that funders are more likely to publish basic project information compared to standardised impact data. Of the organisations reviewed, only 38% published results and only 34% published evaluations.
Why is results data so important?
Low publication of results undermines our ability to determine the impact of funding and progress towards WEE and gender goals, including best practice. How does impact differ between gender mainstreaming verses a sole focus? What about embedding WEE into a larger program verses a standalone WEE project?
Results data helps us understand cases of best practice and strengthens collective learning. Ultimately the ability to analyse results data is a necessary requirement to ensure that, above all, projects meet the goals of local stakeholders and that funders are accountable to local needs. This necessary shift starts with robust engagement with local actors on all parts of the project lifespan. With scarce resources and a growing urgency to address equality issues, this needs to be a strong priority.
How can things improve?
At a minimum we call for open reporting of results and outcome data. To improve transparency, funders should publish evaluations and results information as soon as they become available. Funders should also publish results on all aspects of programme activities, including disaggregating data by sex, age, disability status and any other characteristics as relevant. Publishing results data is particularly relevant where WEE is a component of a broader programme. These are critical to begin to understand the impact of WEE which in turn can identify better outcomes for WEE.
 The four data sources used for this study included: (1) International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard, (2) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development –
Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) Creditor Reporting System (CRS), (3) Candid, and (4) Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (GCAP) funder survey
 Women’s groups and WECs have been identified as potential enablers of WEE.