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Chapter 2 - Introduction

Modified on 2013/05/16 13:45 by Haoyi Chen Paths: Read in Order Categorized as Chapter 2 - Bringing gender issues into statistics
Gender statistics are more than data disaggregated by sex. Although very important in obtaining gender statistics, disaggregation of statistics by sex is only one of the means to integrate a gender perspective in statistics. As explained in Chapter 1, gender statistics have to adequately reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society. Thus, besides disaggregating data by sex, four other elements are particularly important in producing gender statistics. First, the statistics have to reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society. This element is taken into account in two ways: (a) by focusing on certain areas of concern where women and men may not enjoy the same opportunities or status (such as work status in the labour market or higher education, for example) or where women’s and men’s lives may be affected in different ways (such as maternal mortality, domestic violence, or occupational injuries, for example); and (b) by taking into account specific population groups where gender inequality is likely to be present or more pronounced. Second, the concepts, definitions and measurement used should allow an adequate reflection of women’s and men’s status, gender roles and relations in society. Third, data collection tools should take into account stereotypes and social and cultural factors that might introduce gender bias into data. Fourth, analyses and presentation of data should reveal meaningful differences and similarities between women and men.

This chapter is focused on the first key elements in producing gender statistics: coverage of gender issues; disaggregation of data by sex as well as by other variables to show gender inequality at the level of specific population groups in a society; and gender specific conceptual and measurement issues. The other two elements in producing gender statistics are discussed in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4: Chapter 3 is focused on integrating a gender perspective in data collection; while Chapter 4 is focused on data analysis, construction of indicators and presentation of data that would reveal meaningful gender differences or similarities.

  • + Organization of the chapter
    • This chapter presents ten subject-matter topics: education; work; poverty; power and decision-making; environment; food security; population, households and families; health; migration, displaced persons and refugees; violence against women. Each topic is split in a number of sub-topics and for each sub-topic, four inter-related aspects are shown: gender issues, data needed to address those gender issues, sources of data, and gender-specific conceptual and measurement issues related to the data needed.

      The section on gender issues presents short examples of relevant gender issues and aims to help statisticians recognize the types of policy-relevant questions or concerns related to gender that can be raised within a particular topic of interest or field of statistics. This is important because, as explained, gender statistics have to reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society. The examples given do not necessarily reflect the situation in all countries and they are not limited to those for which statistics are widely available.

      The section on data needed shows what data are required to address the gender issues highlighted for each sub-topic and at what level of disaggregation. The disaggregation needed usually include, besides sex and age, other variables identifying (i) population subgroups where gender inequality is likely to be more pronounced, or (ii) some of the explanatory factors of gender inequality. Examples of indicators derived from the gender statistics presented are shown for each sub-topic.

      The section on sources of data presents sources that can provide the data needed. In many cases, data can be derived from more than one source of data, and all those sources are listed. The section specifies when the data collection vehicle has to be focused on the particular topic or sub-topic discussed and when a module or just a few questions added to another data collection vehicle is sufficient to obtain the data. Advantages and disadvantages of various sources of data are presented only to the extent that they relate to gender issues or gender specific measurement issues.

      The last section, on gender-specific conceptual and measurement issues, refers to aspects that may induce sex-biased misreporting or underreporting in data collection and may affect the adequacy of gender statistics. More information on how to avoid gender bias in data collection is presented in Chapter 3 on integrating a gender perspective in data collection.

  • + Uses of the chapter
    • As a framework for use of gender statistics in analytical statistical publications or reports This chapter provides useful information for statisticians preparing analytical publications or reports. Such publications or reports can be either gender-oriented, covering various topics, or topic-oriented regular publications that integrate a gender perspective. The section on “gender issues” can be used as directions of analysis of gender statistics related to specific topics and sub-topics. The sections on “data needed” and “sources of data” guide the statistician analyst on what statistics are needed to address various gender issues and where those data can be found. Finally, the information presented in the section on “conceptual and measurement issues” help statisticians to understand gender-specific limitations of the statistics used in publications or reports and correctly interpret the data.

      As a framework for assessing availability and quality of gender statistics The section on “data needed” provides a list of statistics and their required level of disaggregation that can be used by national statisticians as a standard of comparison to assess the availability of gender statistics produced in their own country. The information presented in the section on “conceptual and measurement issues” can be used to assess whether data quality is limited by use of concepts, definitions, classifications or measurement that do not take into account gender specific roles and gender relations in society or sex-biases in data collection.

      As an overall framework for identifying gaps in gender statistics and developing a national coherent and comprehensive plan for gender statistics This chapter can be used by statisticians as a framework for identifying gender issues and statistics needed in their particular countries, as well as to assess existing sources in terms of topics covered and the availability and quality of gender statistics. This information is crucial in identifying gaps in gender statistics and developing a national coherent and comprehensive plan for gender statistics (see Box 2.1).

  • + Box 2.1 Identifying gaps in gender statistics and developing a national coherent and comprehensive plan for gender statistics
    • All national statistical systems produce statistics disaggregated by sex. However, not all the data produced are adequate to reflect gender issues in the society and their dissemination and interpretation often fails to underline gender differences and their causes. Furthermore, some gender issues considered important by policy makers or planners in a particular country may not be addressed at all by the data currently produced by the national statistical system. The gap between the statistics needed to address nationally-defined gender issues and statistics currently produced by national statistical systems can be identified and used as a basis for further development of gender statistics.

      Setting the priorities in terms of gender issues and the gender statistics needed depends on current policy goals and plans and current standards in statistical concepts and measurement methods. With regard to gender issues that need to be taken into account, there are models provided at the global or regional level. For example, the Beijing Platform for Action identified several critical areas of concern: poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, human rights of women, media, environment, and the girl child. At regional level, priority areas for actions on gender equality may also be outlined (see for example the European Union’s roadmap on gender equality).

      Although most areas of concern outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action are common to all the countries in the world, different countries may have specific priorities in addressing gender issues. It is important that these priorities are made clear during consultations between statisticians and the main users of statistics. The national priorities in gender issues along with the desired depth of analysis become the basis of an inventory of needed gender statistics in a particular country. It is also important to decide whether causes or consequences of issues in question are among the priorities because these aspects will influence the choice of statistics and methods of data collection. Examples of gender issues and statistics needed to address gender issues are provided in Chapter 2 of this manual.

      After the gender issues and the needed statistics have been identified, it is the task of the statistical producers to assess existing sources in terms of data availability and quality, including the use of concepts, definitions, and classifications that would allow an adequate reflection of women’s and men’s status in a particular area. At this stage, consultations between statisticians involved in regular data production and gender statistics specialists are crucial. Gender statistics come from different statistical fields, such as labour force statistics, demographic statistics, social statistics, education statistics and health statistics. Those fields as well as specific stages of data collection, processing and dissemination are the responsibility of different offices or units within the statistical system.

      The assessment of sources of data in terms of topics and subtopics covered and gender-sensitive concepts and definitions used should be done based on review of the questionnaires, manuals, and training materials used in conducting data collection (for more information on integrating a gender perspective into data collection, see Chapter 3). Furthermore, the assessment should show whether collected data are available processed, disaggregated by relevant characteristics and disseminated, by reviewing tabulations and data presentation and dissemination in regular as well as gender-focused outputs produced by the national statistical office.

      Based on the assessment of existing sources of data and dissemination products and the needed gender statistics determined at the earlier stage, the statisticians can identify data gaps and decide whether (a) existing data need to be better utilized or reprocessed through recoding, retabulation or reanalysis of the microdata; (b) improvement in the methodology of existing data collections is necessary; or (c) new data collection is needed – either a completely new instrument or additions to existing data collections. Priorities in developing gender statistics on those three dimensions should be set based on available human and economic resources.


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