On Monday, I attended a workshop on the intersection of data, gender & philanthropy led by my host organization, Spark, and Smash Strategies in San Francisco. For me, it was an incredible opportunity to learn how to assess and measure the real impact of philanthropic investments, as well as to participate in the discussion on the importance of gender data and why it can be so hard to collect.

One of case studies shared by the speakers, Stephenie Foster and Susan Markham, was related to investing in a construction of a Middle school in a rural area in Tanzania in order to keep more adolescent girls educated. The big question behind it was how to measure the true impact of this investment. Beyond school enrollment, would the program delay a girl’s marriage and first child? Would a girl feel empowered to use her education and go to college? Would the community value her in a different way? What I learnt form the workshop, was that thorough research and strong data base were essential for bringing one closer to answering those questions and making a better impact decision.

Gender data, however, can be extremely difficult to collect for a number of reasons. One has to search for reliable sources of information and find a way to compare “apples to apples”. The advice I got during the workshop was to find several data sources that I could trust and consistently utilize them for evaluation and further decision-making. The speakers addressed many other aspects of gender-related data and provided guidelines for making informed investment decisions on both organizational and personal levels. I am hoping that information received at the workshop will help me better navigate the social impact and development space.

Spark and Smash Strategies will be holding another workshop on Data, Gender & Philanthropy in New York on February 21st, 2018. Everyone is welcome to take part in the workshop and in the broader conversation about gender data.

P.S. Here are some photos taken by me at the Workshop in San Francisco.


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