The importance of surveying every adult
Typically, information about household income and livelihoods is obtained through surveys that ask one person to provide information about their family or household. By collecting data this way, many assumptions are made about how resources are distributed across household members – even though we know that someone’s gender, age, disability, ethnicity or sexual orientation are factors in their ability to access and control resources. To understand how these factors influence a person’s life, we need data about individuals. And to understand the situation of different household members, we need to ask them – not someone else – about their circumstances.
More than just money
Poverty is about more than lack of money. If you live in an informal settlement on the edge of an urban area, there may be no health centre, or the health centre may have few trained staff or low availability of prescription drugs. You may have left school early, which affects the kind of work you can do. The environment around you may be polluted, with risks for your health. There may be no electricity to your area, so you have to use unclean fuel for cooking and heating, which affects your health. Your extended family may be subsistence farmers 100 kilometres away, so you don’t have people nearby to call on for support. Your care responsibilities for children and elders could mean you can only work a few hours a day, close to home. If none of the decision-makers in your municipality listen to people like you, nothing improves.
As the story shows, many factors contribute to keeping people in poverty, and most cannot be resolved just by an individual having a bit more money in their pocket. Change requires understanding the multiple barriers that people face and how gender, age, disability, ethnicity, geography and more interact to deepen disadvantage. The solutions to poverty for older women in a rural area are not the same as those for young men living in an informal settlement on the edge of a rapidly growing city. That’s why Equality Insights goes beyond money to better understand poverty and inspire change.
The gender data gap
By surveying every adult in a household, and asking questions about their day-to-day lives, Equality Insights is able to illuminate circumstances and priorities that are too often hidden. The lived realities of diverse women and men, and how they differ – or not – are masked by data only captured at the household and community level. To achieve gender equality and leave no one behind, closing the gender data gap is essential. Data that is collected must enable the experiences of men and women in their diversity to be visible. Equality Insights responds to this challenge, collecting primary data to reveal the particular challenges faced by diverse men and women and provides direction on where action can make the most impact.
The foundations of Equality Insights
Equality Insights is underpinned by twelve years of research and development. Our history of collaborative partnerships and research in different cultural contexts can be viewed in full here. Notably, from 2016-2020 the Australian National University (ANU) and the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA) undertook a significant program of refinement and testing to ready (what was then known as) the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM) for global use. This work was supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and enabled regular contributions to global discourses on individual and gender-sensitive multidimensional poverty measurement and addressing gender data gaps.
Equality Insights will build on the foundations of the IDM to increase the accessibility of the measure and the data it generates, including for actors with fewer resources or more limited technical capacity. We want decision-makers and change advocates of all kinds to be able to understand more about poverty in their context and inspire change in support of inclusive and impactful poverty alleviation. Equality Insights will leverage IWDA’s long-term, feminist partnerships to engage with women’s rights organisations and movements, putting data in their hands and co-producing actionable insights. Together we will support a growing use of evidence for accountability and advocacy towards the realisation of gender equality and a future that is more inclusive, just and sustainable.