Big data holds great promise in addressing the lack of knowledge about key aspects of the lives of women and girls—the global gender data gap. Over the past several years, Data2X, with support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, has funded a series of projects to explore how big data can be applied to this goal (see summary report for more details).

Building on this first phase, we are pleased to announce a Big Data for Gender Challenge. Researchers are encouraged to 1) use a combination of digital and conventional data sources to conduct gender analysis on a specific research question, or to 2) submit proposals for building practical tools to monitor the well-being of women and girls over time.

Although the competition is open to all ideas that address the well-being of women and girls, priorities include mental health, violence, political participation, individual-level poverty/well-being, migration, and other topics that traditional sources of data have not been able to address at the necessary frequency and spatial resolution. Refer to Mapping Gender Data Gaps for a non-exhaustive list of gender data gaps; priority gender data gaps are also those that map to the Sustainable Development Goals framework (refer to this non-exhaustive list of gender-related SDG indicators).

What: Big Data for Gender Challenge to catalyze innovative solutions to fill global gender data gaps on the well-being of women and girls. Applicants can submit proposals for prizes of $100,000 or $50,000. Current doctoral students may also apply for a $25,000 dissertation grant.
Who: Researchers worldwide.
When: Applications Due: Friday, July 7, 2017
Finalist Video Interviews: July 24, 2017 – July 31, 2017
Winners Announced: September 2017
Research and Reports Due: September 2019


Proposals Should Include:

Problem statement: Identify the data gap to be addressed, constraints to filling the gap with current systems, and policy relevance.
Approach: Discuss the approach to the concept, design and execution of the project. Please include a brief description of the dataset(s) to be used, and whether researchers have existing access, plan to obtain access, or dataset is open access. Also include a brief description of the analytical methodology, including previous applications
Budget: Provide a provisional itemized budget estimate. Proposals should specify one of three levels of funding—$100,000, $50,000, or $25,000. Please bear in mind that more grants will be released, and thus more applications are likely to be successful, at lower funding levels.
Timeline: Provide a timeline for implementation, with a completion date no later than September 2019.
Organizational or Personal Qualifications: Discuss your capabilities, including any relevant project experience that demonstrates success in implementing a similar project and relevant past experience working in the non-profit and/or philanthropic sector. Identify the team proposed for the project, including institutional affiliations and short CVs.
References: Include the names and contact details for at least two (2) references which Data2X may contact to aid its evaluation of your qualifications.
Disclosures/Declarations: Disclose any potential conflicts of interest between you/your firm and this RFP. Please also share how you learned of this research opportunity.
Proposal length: The Problem Statement and Approach sections should not exceed 5 pages. The Budget, Timeline, Qualifications, References, and Disclosures/Declarations are supplementary and may be included on additional pages.


Selection Criteria and Process

    • The criteria used to determine the selected proposal/s will include:


  • Policy relevance of the data or research question
  • Competency and experience
  • Demonstrated capacity for conducting data analysis in lines with the overall objectives of this Challenge (including explicit focus on gender in all aspects of the analysis)
  • Assessed likelihood of successful data access, if access is not already secured
  • ‘Openness’ of methodologies and findings
  • Emphasis on local capacity building, where possible
  • Cost, when compared with similar project ideas

Proposals will be assessed by a technical review panel. All applications will remain confidential, and reviewers will be screened for conflicts of interest.


Terms and Conditions

  • All research and work performed under this RFP are expected be performed in accordance with UN Foundation (Data2X host organization)’s standard terms.
  • Data2X is committed to ensuring that results contribute to the ultimate aim of improving use of big data sources for gender analysis. Data2X will work with funded Applicants to ensure that study progress and results are widely disseminated, and profiled at technical meetings as relevant. All materials, reports, and results produced through the Challenge will be required to be made available for dissemination to the public, i.e. through the Data2X website, newsletters, and webinars. In addition to preparing reports, Applicants are encouraged to publish in open-access, peer-reviewed literature.
  • Data2X will retain the right to ensure that study results are made publicly available in a timely and transparent manner, and in doing so that the intellectual property rights of Applicants are honored – and protected, as well as any subject and manufacturer confidentiality is maintained, as required.
  • Depending on the proposed project and funding agreement, Data2X and Applicant agree that any and all software and/or documentation created by the Applicant under this agreement will be distributed solely as Free Software. Client retains the sole right to determine whether the Applicant’s software and/or documentation constitutes Free Software.
  • The mechanism of funding may take the form of a grant or a contract, depending on the scope of the proposed project and /or the nature of proposed deliverables. Agreements will be made between the Applicant and the United Nations Foundation (institutional host of Data2X).
  • The indirect cost rate cap is 10% for universities and 15% for non-governmental organizations.
  • Final technical reports should include a brief summary of the study methods and results written for a nontechnical audience. Applicants are permitted to submit a technical version of the report for academic publication. Final reports will be reviewed by Data2X staff to assess the strengths and limitations of the studies, including study methods and approaches to analyses. In addition, reviewers will evaluate whether reported results / conclusions are adequately supported by the available evidence. Depending on the reviewer comments received, Applicants will be asked to make revisions to their final reports within a reasonable time frame mutually agreed upon by the investigators and Data2X.


Please direct questions on proposals prior to submissions to
Please send all project proposals to the same address
by 5:00 PM EST, Friday, July 7, 2017.