Big Data on Gender

Our Initiatives

Women play a critical and potentially transformative role in agricultural growth in developing countries. However,  there are persistent challenges that are constraining women’s inclusion in agriculture and the consideration of their influence when development strategies are devised.

Working towards gender-equal agricultural development and innovation requires a rethink as to how problems are defined and prioritized, who is engaged, and the way in which solutions are integrated. 

Some of the key obstacles to achieving a gender-equal approach to agricultural development solutions are:


  • Gender data gaps
  • Barriers to a gender-responsive approach in the innovation cycle
  • Limited sharing of knowledge and practices

Big Data and Gender Platforms partnership

CGIAR’s Platforms for Big Data in Agriculture and Gender Research Platform formed a partnership in 2018 with the aim to co-design innovative uses of data science to help bridge the gender divide in data; a key step to ensure women are not left behind in digital agriculture revolution.

Our gender initiatives


The CGIAR BIG DATA and GENDER Platforms work together to address gaps in gender-disaggregated data by improving metadata tagging. As of September 2019, 7,060 publications related to gender are discoverable through GARDIAN, and 124 datasets have explicit gender-related dimensions.

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The effects of these efforts will unfold as Centers manage the datasets made discoverable through GARDIAN, and the BIG DATA Platform will continue to play a role in developing CGIAR-wide standards and data management practices that enable gender data discovery.

The BIG DATA and GENDER Platforms conducted a design session at the 2018 Big Data in Agriculture Convention to assess how new data types (such as satellite imagery and mobile network metadata) can be leveraged to reveal new insights into gender in food systems. This research agenda will be launched in 2019.

Additionally, the BIG DATA Platform’s Community of Practice on Socio-Economic Data has supported the GENDER Platform on research related to the findability of gender data. The research team will deliver an inventory of existing gender data sets and a comprehensive list of metadata fields that support the findability of gender data.

For more information please contact Marcelo Tyszler.

Gender Analysis and Identification Toolkit (GAIT)

Dalberg Data Insights and the mobile industry association GSMA developed the gender analysis and identification toolkit (GAIT)a machine learning-enhanced approach to help mobile operators analyze usage patterns to predict the gender of subscribers. This is critical because many of mobile phone users are subscribed under the name of a male within their household.

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The team will leverage the GAIT methodology to explore women’s autonomy within their households, communities, and economies.  Beginning with a survey of the research literature and survey design, the team will identify good quality proxy measures for women’s economic empowerment in mobile usage patterns.  Establishing a proxy will enable observations at a national scale and capture change over time. 

The team aims to find a method that can be replicated  across countries, providing the insights needed to unlock insights into gendered aspects of mobile phone usage at national, regional, and global scales.


Research Project: Where in the World are the Empowered Women?

In 2019, the BIG DATA and GENDER Platforms launched a collaborative research project that examines relationships among women’s empowerment, food security, and agricultural growth.

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The research team will conduct a literature review of call detail record (CDR) for establishing good quality proxies to analyze the relationship between gender and economic empowerment. Then, with guidance from the GENDER Platform, the team will develop a survey instrument. 

The research is inspired and informed by the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI), a survey-based, composite measurement tool that indicates women’s control over critical parts of their lives, helps to identify barriers to empowerment, and tracks progress towards gender equality, one of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information please contact Marcelo Tyszler or Vanya Slavchevska.

Inspire Challenge

The judging process of the 2018 Inspire Challenge explicitly evaluated proposals on their gender integration strategies. Proposals were evaluated with a rubric and scoring matrix that assessed if and how gender considerations were incorporated into the project design. Thus, gender-sensitive projects were actively recognized and rewarded by the Inspire Challenge process.

Working Groups on Gender


The Community of Practice on Socio-Economic Data is working on data harmonization and standardization through the definition of key concepts and related questions. Part of this work relates to minimum data that needs to be collected to get a basic sense of women’s empowerment.

For more information please contact Mark van Wijk.


The Community of Practice on Socio-Economic Data is developing a socio-economic ontology to be linked to data sets collected by CGIAR researchers. This ontology will capture the gender-related aspects of the dataset developed by the 100Q working group. Over time more granular ontology terms for tagging gendered data sets will become available.

For more information please contact Soonho Kim.