29 January 2018
SDG Knowledge Weekly: Migration, Health, Gender and Data
Photo courtesy of SDG Fund
story highlights

The International Organisation for Migration, German Development Institute and World Bank each released papers on migration.

Gender equality featured in a range of knowledge sharing items, with a focus on data gaps and linkages to Davos discussions.

New initiatives and research articles also link data, health and the SDGs.

Topics at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland, often revolve around mobilizing finance and addressing inequality. This year, those issues came into focus through discussions about migration, gender and health, with a particular look at the need for better data. This brief explores these calls and related knowledge products from the Davos discussions.

With refugee and broader migration issues growing in prominence, as shown by the 2016 ODA figures noted in last week’s brief, many in the international community identified the WEF meeting as “an opportunity to talk about migration solutions.” At Davos, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) launched a report titled, ‘More than Numbers: How migration data can deliver real-life benefits for migrants and governments.’ The report, jointly produced with McKinsey & Company, shows how investing in better data can enable more effective migration management, which yields benefits for both migrants and countries. The study laments the lack of a clear value case to policy makers on tangible outcomes from investments in better migration data. Among the benefits of better migration data, the authors highlight better information about cost reductions, gap-filling in domestic labor markets, economic gains attributed to skilled labor additions, and increased support to human trafficking victims. The UN News Centre notes that data is essential for assessing progress on migration-related SDG targets.

The German Development Institute (DIE) considers ways to improve migration governance in a paper titled, ‘Regional Migration Governance: Contributions to a Sustainable International Migration Architecture.’ The authors argue that global migration governance is in a transition period and that the current regime is fragmented, but finds that most cross-border migration takes place within – rather than across – regional spaces. The paper summarizes three forms of regional cooperation on migration: migration-relation activities of regional organization such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); consultative policy processes often led or guided by IOM; and inter-regional cooperation processes such as the EU-AU Migration Route Initiative. The authors recommend building and expanding capacities, fostering interaction across national, regional and global levels, and ensuring increased regional influence in the current global migration architecture.

The World Bank’s Global Migration Group produced a ‘Handbook for Improving the Production and Use of Migration Data for Development.’ Launched ahead of the WEF in December 2017, the handbook offers 17 chapters on migration’s various dimensions, including health and gender impacts. Part 1 of the report reviews concepts and definitions relating to migration, examines statistics gathered by the UN Population Division and the UN Statistics Division, and identifies innovative data sources. Part 2 analyzes reasons for migration, part 3 examines the nexus between migration and development, including finance (in the form of remittances), and part 4 looks at protection of migrants. Chapter 15 is dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, while data is mainstreamed across the report, with each chapter featuring a section on data gaps and challenges.

Connecting data and gender, the ‎International Development Research Centre’s (IDRC’s) Jemimah Njuki writes on IPS News that the data revolution “should not leave women and girls behind.” Njuki highlights recent initiatives to track progress on SDG 5 (gender equality), such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goal Keepers Initiative. The article goes on to note how data constraints can disenfranchise women, fail to measure the efficacy of policy interventions, and track land ownership by sex.

Women hold fewer skilled positions that are likely to remain resilient in the face of manufacturing advances.

Linking back to the Davos discussions, a blog by Business Insider’s Lianna Brinded on WEF’s website highlights how economic and manufacturing trends such as automation can serve to exacerbate existing gender gaps. Brinded references a report launched in December 2017 by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which finds that “a greater proportion of [jobs] held by women compared to men are likely to be technically automatable,” as women hold fewer skilled positions that are likely to remain resilient in the face of advances in manufacturing technologies. To help foster greater political will, technical capacity and resources for improving the lives of women and girls, Devex, Data2X and Open Data Watch are calling for stories to combat backsliding on the gender front.

Data has also featured recently in the health community as a means to improve delivery. A new partnership launched at Davos will leverage technology and philanthropy to “reinvent community health care.” The initiative aims to improve “last-mile healthcare” through mobile technology, facilitating door-to-door medical service from 50,000 community health workers. The launch responds to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report that finds up to half the world’s population still does not have access to health services, and notes a shortage of health workers. Indeed, as noted by Harald Nusser on EurActiv, we need “all hands on deck” to meet global health goals by 2030.

Also on health, a research article on BMJ Global Health highlights the importance of an integrating framework for SDG achievement. The authors show how mainstreaming health and well-being throughout the Goals can serve as “both preconditions and outcomes” of sustainable development. In practice, such an approach to health would facilitate collaborative efforts across sectors, such as agriculture and energy (correlated with SDGs 2 and 7, respectively). The authors note that integrating frameworks are not mutually exclusive, and can be applied simultaneously in a range of sectors to strengthen cross-cutting issues and themes spanning the breadth of the 2030 Agenda.

Additional health initiatives also arose in recent weeks:

  • Linking policy, finance and non-communicable diseases, New York City’s former mayor Mike Bloomberg and former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers launched the Task Force on Fiscal Policy for Health. A CGD blog post on the launch is available here.
  • For those interested in reducing maternal, neonatal and infant mortality as a means to achieving the SDGs in Africa, the Aid & International Development Forum is hosting a webinar on the subject on 7 February 2018.

Among upcoming data-related events, Argentina is hosting the Data Gaps Initiative Meeting (DGI), which is organized under the framework of the G20 Leaders’ Summit and will convene from 29-30 January 2018, in Buenos Aires. The Programme Committee for the UN World Data Forum 2018 has called for session proposals, due by 31 January 2018. The second WDF is scheduled to convene from 22-23 October 2018, in Dubai, UAE.

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