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Acumen and Unilever launch Lean Data How-to Guide for Measuring Gender Impact

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Women make up more than half the global population and half of the world’s poor. At Acumen, we recognize poverty can impact women and men differently, but existing data makes it hard to have a clear understanding of how or why. To see if we could bring a gender lens to impact measurement, we joined forces with our partner Unilever to create the Lean Data How-to Guide: Understanding Gender Impact.

The guide leverages Acumen’s Lean Data methodology—now available to the entire social sector through our new social enterprise, 60 Decibels—to gather meaningful data to understand the gender dimensions of poverty. Lean Data puts the voice of the customer at the center of impact measurement. By speaking directly to women and listening to their feedback, Lean Data enables us to learn the different ways women experience the products and services provided by Unilever and Acumen companies, and, in turn, allows us to build businesses and initiatives working to close the gender gap.

Our hope is that this Lean Data How-To Guide can be a tool for social enterprises, impact investors, and the social sector as a whole to capture meaningful data to more effectively measure gender impact. It provides a simple, easy-to-use, and actionable approach to help put the voices of women front and center, so we can unlock the potential of women and create solutions to the entrenched problems of gender equity.

Inside, we provide details on our approach, surveys and methodology, along with analysis and consolidated insights, from five pilot projects—including LabourNet, an Acumen investment—across four countries.

Highlights include:

Which Questions to Ask: We asked a core set of questions from our Lean Data surveys that served as a jumping-off point to understand how men and women experience a product, program or service differently. Their responses allowed us to examine demographic trends by gender as well as disaggregated qualitative and quantitative responses.

How to Design Surveys: We teamed up with the International Center for Research on Women to build a more specific set of modules to complement the wider observations resulting from our questions. These modules looked at four dimensions of gender impact relevant to our pilot projects: women’s economic empowerment, power and agency, balance of paid and unpaid work, and workplace safety and violence against women.

The Lean Data How-to Guide represents the start of what we at Acumen, Unilever and 60 Decibels hope becomes a broader conversation around actionable gender impact measurement, and puts us, as a sector, on the path to realizing gender equity.