There are many ways that donors can help to improve the lives of women and girls, but it can be difficult to sift through the immense amount of data and information to identify the best solutions. Our team at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy developed The XX Factor: A Comprehensive Framework for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls to help funders understand the main ways to improve women’s lives.

Trying to improve the lives of half of the world’s population is a lofty task given the differences in economic and social conditions of women around the world. Because of this, there is a tendency for funders to focus on a single region or area of interest, without recognizing how it connects to other important areas. This approach can prevent funders from identifying others doing similar or complementary work.

In order to provide a holistic framework for understanding the different ways that funders can have an impact on women’s lives, we took the broadest lens possible. Our focus is all populations of women and girls across all dimensions of their lives, with the ultimate goal of improving the lives of as many women and girls as possible. Our goal is not only to decrease disparities between genders, but also to create positive social impact in absolute terms for women and girls. Therefore, we highlighted indicators relevant to the most women and girls globally, even if those same issues and indicators apply to and benefit men as well.

We began by looking at the many existing frameworks, and found that no single framework was used commonly across the field, and none fit with the broad lens we described above. We looked for key areas of overlap in these frameworks and examined the evidence on what dimensions of women’s lives matter and why. We sorted through thousands of indicators that are being used by stakeholders that want to make a difference in the lives of women and girls. What emerged from the evidence was consensus around which indicators link to the greatest impact on the lives of women and girls globally, in five key areas: health, education, economic empowerment, personal safety, and legal rights. We call these the “five dimensions of women’s lives.”

The five dimensions represent the main areas where there are opportunities for funders to create positive change in women’s lives. They are the basis for our framework – for each dimension, we highlight which indicators have both the deepest evidence base and the broadest consensus linking them to greater social impact for women and girls globally.

Check out The XX Factor on our website for the full list of indicators, as well as our 10 best bets for funders to improve women’s lives.