Image Cannot Be Displayed

From Evidence to Action: How Can Policy Close the Gender Gap?

Time and Place

6th Floor, The Wilson Center

Follow the conversation



Event Details

Ambassador Deborah Birx and Global Experts Discuss Data and the Gender Gap

On June 8th, the Women in Public Service Project, Plan International USA, and the Environmental Change and Security Program brought in experts from public and private sectors to tackle the issue of connecting data and evidence with real-world advancement in promoting gender parity. The event began with the keynote address by Ambassador Deborah Birx, Coordinator of the United States Government Activities to Combat HIV/AIDS and U.S. Special Representative for Global Heath Diplomacy, followed by a panel discussion moderated by Roger-Mark De Souza, Director of Population, Environmental Security, and Resilience at the Wilson Center. The conversation was fueled by insights from Danielle Grant, Director for Health Plan International USA, Kate Maloney, Director at KPMG LLP, and Gwen K. Young, Director of the Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project at the Wilson Center.

The panelists offered different approaches to deconstructing the gender gap in data, discussed major innovations to bridge that data gap, and together pinpointed opportunities for cross-sector partnerships to leverage the progress toward women leadership and political participation. 

Key Quotes

Ambassador Deborah Birx

Ambassador Deborah Birx

“Less than 40% of the sexual partners of young women and young men are virally suppressed, meaning you have no impact on the epidemic. That’s why not only having data is important but age and sex-disaggregated data is absolutely key.”

“It’s important to have data but it’s also important to have it visualized in a way that program managers and ministers of health can see why they have to change the policies and investment structures for young women.”

Danielle Grant

Danielle Grant

“In Malawi, we are working with boys also. They are part of the environment and we need to address that.”

“Working with the girls, we’ve learned that socially and economically empowered youth tend to have reduced vulnerability and it can lead to reduction in HIV/AIDS infections.”

“Changing gender norms takes time, but at least if we start with the 10 to 14, maybe by 18 or 19 there’s a change in some of their norms.”

Kate Maloney

Kate Maloney

"You need the numbers, but those numbers mean nothing if people can’t take them, translate them and put them to action."

"There is space for us to engage in pro bono work and there’s not an expected financial return for KPMG. This is about our citizenship. This is creating change for the world we want."

"For business, we would be nowhere without healthy, educated consumers and educated, healthy labor force. We are only as good as the human capital in the country."

"Businesses have that obligation and opportunity to influence in a positive way policy and the political environment."

Gwen Young

Gwen Young

“The notion [of the index] is not to rank the countries but to show the government institutions over time what is happening. It’s about inclusive decision-making, changing the way solutions are forged, and getting to the innovative governance that reflects the need of the community.”

“Data is not only quantitative – it’s also qualitative.”

"The next step is to convene and hold policy dialogues around specific pieces of this data set to explain what it means in order to make this really implementable."

As demonstrated by the speakers, evidence and data plays a pivotal role in advocating for actions towards gender equality. While we acknowledge the fact that numbers cannot stand alone by themselves, it is crucial for us to initiate open dialogues on accessibility, visualization, and implementation through new and existing cross-sector partnerships. Support and endorsements from private enterprises would enable data like the Women in Public Service’s index of global women leadership in government to be engage a larger audience and foster fruitful discussions around inclusion and diversity.

By Hoa Nguyen, WPSP Intern



Plan International USA
Plan International USA
The Environmental Change and Security Program at The Wilson Center


Cover Photo: World Bank Photo Collection via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Featured Speakers