Chapter 2 - Introduction
Modified on 2015/05/21 09:00 by Sean Zheng — 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 of integrating a gender perspective in statistics. As explained in chapter I, gender statistics have to adequately reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society. Therefore, 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 and higher education) or where women’s and men’s lives may be affected in different ways (such as maternal mortality, domestic violence and occupational injuries); 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 for 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 may introduce gender bias into data. Fourth, analyses and presentation of data should reveal meaningful differences and similarities between women and men.
This chapter focuses on the first three key elements in producing gender statistics, namely, coverage of gender issues, disaggregation of data by sex and 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 key elements in producing gender statistics are discussed in chapters III and IV. Chapter III focuses on integrating a gender perspective in data collection, while chapter IV focuses 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 10 subject-matter topics: education; work; poverty; environment; food security; power and decision-making; population, households and families; health; migration, displaced persons and refugees; and violence against women. Each topic is split into a number of subtopics and for each subtopic four interrelated aspects are discussed: gender issues; data needed to address those gender issues; sources of data; and gender-specific conceptual and measurement issues related to the data needed.
(a) The part relating to gender issues presents brief examples of relevant gender issues and aims to help statisticians to 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, nor are they limited to those countries for which statistics are widely available; (b) The part relating to data needed shows what data are required to address the gender issues highlighted for each subtopic and at what level of disaggregation. The disaggregation needed usually includes, besides sex and age, other variables identifying (i) population subgroups where gender inequality is likely to be more pronounced and (ii) some of the explanatory factors of gender inequality. Examples of indicators derived from the gender statistics presented are shown for each subtopic;
(c) The part relating to sources of data presents sources that can provide the data needed. In the many cases where data can be derived from more than one source, all sources are listed. This part also specifies when the data collection vehicle has to focus on the particular topic or subtopic discussed and when a module or a few questions added to another data collection vehicle is sufficient to obtain the data. The advantages and disadvantages of the various sources of data are presented only to the extent that they relate to gender issues or gender-specific measurement issues;
(d) Lastly the part relating to conceptual and measurement issues refers to aspects that may induce sex-biased misreporting or underreporting in data collection and affect the adequacy of gender statistics. More information on how to avoid gender bias in data collection is presented in chapter III.
Uses of the chapter
As a framework for using 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 part relating to gender issues can be used to direct the analysis of gender statistics related to specific topics and subtopics. The parts relating to data needed and sources of data guide the statistician analyst as to which statistics are needed to address various gender issues and where those statistics can be found. Lastly, the information presented in the part relating to conceptual and measurement issues helps statisticians to understand the gender-specific limitations of statistics used in publications or reports and to correctly interpret the data.
As a framework for assessing the availability and quality of gender statistics.
The part relating to section on data needed provides a list of statistics and their required level of disaggregation. This 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 part relating to conceptual and measurement issues can be used to assess whether data quality is limited by the use of concepts, definitions, classifications or measurement that do not take into account gender-specific roles and gender relations in society or sex bias 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 the statistics needed in their particular countries and assessing 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 II.1).
Box II.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 the gender issues in that society and their dissemination and interpretation often fails to underline gender differences and their causes. Furthermore, some of the gender issues considered important by policymakers 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 the statistics currently produced by national statistical systems can be identified and used as a basis for the further development of gender statistics.
Setting priorities in terms of the gender issues that need to be taken into account and the gender statistics needed to address those issues 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, models are provided at the global and regional levels. For example, the Beijing Platform for Action identified several critical areas of concern, namely, poverty, education and training, health, violence against women, armed conflict, economy, power and decision-making, human rights of women, media, the environment and the girl child. At the regional level, priority areas for action on gender equality may also have been outlined (see, for example, the European Union roadmap on gender equality).
Although most of the areas of concern outlined in the Beijing Platform for Action are common to all countries, 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. National priorities in terms of the gender issues that need to be taken into account along with the desired depth of analysis become the basis of an inventory of the gender statistics needed in a particular country. It is also important to decide whether the causes or consequences of the issues in question are among the priorities because these aspects will influence the choice of statistics and the methods of data collection. Examples of gender issues that need to be taken into account and the statistics needed to address those issues are provided in chapter II.
Once the gender issues and the statistics needed have been identified, it is the task of statistical producers to assess existing sources in terms of data availability and quality, including the use of concepts, definitions and classifications that would allow for 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 the 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 the topics and subtopics covered and the gender-sensitive concepts and definitions used should be done on the basis of a 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 III). Furthermore, the assessment should identify whether the collected data are available processed, disaggregated by relevant characteristics and disseminated, by reviewing the tabulations and data presentation and dissemination in the regular as well as in the gender-focused outputs produced by the national statistical office.
On the basis of this assessment of existing sources of data and dissemination products and the determination, at an earlier stage of the gender statistics needed, statisticians can identify data gaps and decide whether (a) existing data need to be better utilized or reprocessed through a recoding, retabulation or reanalysis of the microdata; (b) the methodology of existing data collections needs to be improved; or (c) a new form of data collection is needed, either a completely new instrument or additions to existing instruments. Priorities in developing gender statistics on those three dimensions should be set according to the human and economic resources available.
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