Background of No Ceilings

In 1995, at the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, 189 nations agreed to an ambitious platform for action: to ensure the full participation of girls and women. To create a benchmark of progress and determine where the gaps remain, No Ceilings partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to collect and analyze data on the status of girls and women since 1995. Working with the Economist Intelligence Unit and the UCLA World Policy Analysis Center, No Ceilings worked to aggregate 850,000 data points over 20 years across 190 countries on the status of women and girls. In March 2015, the data – and trends over time – were released as the "Full Participation Report", available for download in six languages. 

No Ceilings also worked closely with the data visualization firm Fathom Information Design to take the data and create a comprehensive, shareable website that could be accessed from a variety of devices by a range of audiences. The result is, complete with data visualizations and videos where users can explore the evidence and dive into compelling stories of girls and women globally.

We learned the data proves that, while we have not achieved gender equality in any country, progress is possible. For example, the gender gap in primary education has nearly closed, and the rate of maternal mortality has dropped by nearly half. However, significant gaps remain, especially in the areas of security, economic opportunity, and women’s leadership.

Informed by the Report, No Ceilings also released the Full Participation Plan, which identifies 10 policy priorities that leaders, individuals, and stakeholders can use to accelerate progress and ensure that commitments translate into measurable improvements for girls and women on the ground.

To engage a broader audience in the conversation around gender equality, in 2014 we began a partnership with the innovative creative firm Droga5 by hosting a series of focus groups in the U.S. with men and women in their 20s. We learned they were misinformed and considered these issues “too big and too complicated” to tackle. They did not find these issues relatable to their own experience or take gender inequality personally. Some women recognized the current state of gender equality, yet for their purposes considered it “good enough.”

To inspire a new generation of change makers, and timed with the release of The Full Participation Report and, No Ceilings launched a broad public awareness effort, “Not There,” on International Women’s Day in 2015. The campaign was meant to symbolically show that we are “not there” yet on issues of gender equality, and to drive viewers to learn the facts and take action.

No Ceilings and Droga5 reached out to a wide variety of media companies, brands, celebrities, and influencers to invite them to join us on March 8, International Women’s Day, to remove symbolically and temporarily images of women from traditional media in a series of key physical locations – billboards, bus shelters, etc. – in New York City, and on social media channels. The images were replaced with the URL, driving visitors to a video featuring the voices of celebrities including Amy Poehler and Cameron Diaz as they highlighted key data from the report showing we are “not there” yet on gender equality.

Then in September 2015, to mark the actual 20th anniversary of Beijing, No Ceilings launched a new gender equality campaign with MTV’s Look Different to illuminate gender biases and the gaps that keep girls and women from full participation around the world. The campaign contrasts the remarkable progress made by girls and women against the stark realities that remain for far too many worldwide.