According to the Ugandan organization Pollicy, gender is not a variable in the compilation of statistics in Africa. This causes a lack of knowledge on the condition of African women.
"What is not seen does not exist", summarizes the team of the Ugandan non-governmental organization Pollicy, responsible for listing statistics and surveys in all sectors, and digitizing them, concluding a study . The NGO notices a tendency, on the part of institutions, not to take into account the specificities of African female populations. For Pollicy, when collecting biometric data, counting populations or collecting medical information, we have no idea what percentage of women are affected.
This is all the more obvious with regard to statistics on birth rates, religious data or even the crime rate among minors in Africa. Pollicy's study, led by researchers Neema Lyer, Chenai Chair and Garnett Achieng, highlights the scarcity of information on women in Africa and thus underlines the direct consequences of this lack of data, which causes a knowledge deficit to tackle the problems facing African women.
Data exists ... but is not taken into account
The Pollicy report, which shows a marginalization of women in statistics, states that, “around the world, when statistics from a certain partition of the groups surveyed or surveyed are not found, it usually means that the desire to making them invisible is deliberate ”. However, according to the study, dubbed “Afrofeminist Data Futures”, 140 feminist organizations have been identified in some thirty African countries. Neema Lyer regrets that, even when data on women exist, “they are not taken into account” by the institutions. "What should be done in the first place is to update all the surveys and censuses on which African states are based for social development," she continues.
The last study on the subject, carried out by the international Data 2X platform, dates from 2019. It took into account the 15 most industrialized African countries and revealed that “information factored by gender is only available for 52% of the indicators. relevant ”. In half of the cases, therefore, the women would be invisible. This is particularly the case for the sectors of agriculture - while women produce up to 80% of foodstuffs intended for household consumption according to the United Nations -, finance or public health. And for Pollicy, this is far from being a simple detail: this trend reveals "the lower value that some African societies place on women and girls". Because the collection of data, in addition to its sociological impact, has two effects: the impact on political decisions and the exposure of problems that affect a fringe of society.
When states call on GAFAM
For the NGO Pollicy, Africa is “a treasure trove of untapped information”. However, large companies in the digital sector are trying to be at the forefront of information. But they often forget the women. This has consequences, since according to Garnett Achieng, the censuses by African states generally include the figures published by GAFAM which, for their part, are based on "social media platforms and websites". Unreliable sources, therefore, which give skewed results. Especially when we know the low internet penetration rate in Africa: South Africa, with 70%, is for example the most connected country.
The NGO also regrets that the data are only partially accessible and only concern a minority of African populations. The fault of data protection policies deemed ineffective. "This information takes the form of the identities, behaviors and beliefs of consumers and is mainly used for profit through sale to third parties, be they political actors or advertisers." , deplores Neema Lyer who accuses the GAFAM of digital colonialism.
Pollicy urges those involved in data collection to urgently integrate women into the data collection process. This is, says the NGO, a necessary step to better understand the evolution of access to employment, health services, fair justice or even their civic and political rights for African women.