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 In Case Studies, Current Events, How To

We’re taking a break today from our series on the importance of social identity data to highlight the progress being made by organizations who see data as a tool for social change. As we continue to celebrate Pride Month, I was delighted to see that our good friends at CARE are taking steps to fight sexual harassment with data.

How does that even work?

Too often, people overlook the power that data can wield in the right hands. Many people make the mistake of thinking that data is merely a way to identify a problem, but does nothing to solve it. We forget that recognizing that a problem exists is the most crucial step towards mobilizing resources to solve it.

No one should have to face inequity, discrimination, or harassment as they try to earn a living. While the example I’m going to highlight is about young women facing harassment, the story could just as easily be applied to anyone considered a minority because of gender identity or sexual preference.

Let’s all recognize the strides CARE has made in their effort to fight sexual harassment with data, and encourage other organizations around the world to do the same.

Tackling Harassment in the Cambodian Garment Industry

One of CARE’s major goals is the empowerment of women, especially in regions where they have historically been denied rights and equal treatment. The garment industry in Cambodia is growing rapidly, and between 80 and 85 percent of the sector’s employees are women — many of whom leave home to obtain work and send much of their earnings to family members in their home provinces. Sounds great, right?

Sadly, women’s participation in this industry is marred by gender inequality and a lack of protections for these women, who fill only 4% of leadership roles despite their overwhelming presence in the workforce.

CARE: Sexual Harassment Stops Here

Logo from CARE’s multi-media Sexual Harassment Prevention Package for Garment Factories in Cambodia

CARE identified this discrepancy and committed resources to conducting an industry-wide study examining the prevalence (and cost) of sexual harassment — an amazing (and not inexpensive) piece of work. The resulting report, I know I cannot quit, provided new insights:

  • 28.6% of women said they had experienced sexual harassment at work
  • 16.5% said they had experienced sexual harassment outside the factory
  • CARE estimated the productivity cost to the industry to be $89 million (USD)

Using that data, CARE uncovered a lack of official regulation or remedies for harassment and developed a multimedia sexual harassment prevention package that offers garment factories the tools to stop harassment, protecting the young women CARE was working to empower.

More Ways to Fight Sexual Harassment With Data

Undertaking a major study and implementing solutions the way CARE did aren’t the only ways to fight sexual harassment with data. In the fight for equality, all efforts matter, no matter how large or small.

  • Hollaback! used Knight Foundation funding to develop a mobile phone app that let users provide geotagged reports of harassment to city officials
  • OpenGenderTracking (also funded by the Knight Foundation) allows content creators to evaluate gender bias in their work
  • The International Development Research Center is currently supporting a two-year project called HarassMap, using crowd-sourced data to raise awareness of sexual harassment and help develop interventions

It’s important to avoid the trap of thinking that asking questions about sensitive issues like harassment, gender identity, or sexual orientation is discriminatory. Collecting social identity data is the best way to meet the needs of the population you aim to serve.

Want help using your organization’s data to fight sexual harassment or gender discrimination? Our team of statisticians, data analysts, and visualization experts are at your service. Get in touch with us to learn more about how you can make a difference.

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