Tracking gender statistics in pursuit of SDG 5

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un-desa-nov-2016To deepen the understanding of the different challenges women and men face in today’s world, statisticians use disaggregated data and gender statistics to allow for a unique insight into gender issues.

The 6th Global Forum on Gender Statistics, organized by UN DESA’s Statistics Division and Statistics Finland, focused on data and statistical methods for the follow-up and review of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It was an opportunity to take stock of progress towards the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment and to review data availability, data challenges and countries’ capacities to measure and monitor gender-relevant issues.

keiko-osaki-tomitaKeiko Osaki Tomita, Chief of the Demographic and Social Statistics Branch in UN DESA’s Statistics Division, seeks to ensure that gender statistics are available for policy makers, so that problems and concerns related to all aspects of women’s and men’s lives, including their specific needs, opportunities and contributions to society, can be addressed in a timely and constructed manner.

She shared with UN DESA Voice her thoughts on the importance of gender statistics for sustainable development, and ultimately, the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Why is it imperative to focus on gender-specific statistics?

“Relevant, reliable and timely gender statistics—cutting across traditional fields of statistics, including education, health and employment as well as emerging fields, such as climate change— are essential for understanding the similarities and differences between women and men in a given society. Such information is critical to policy- and decision-makers and to advancing progress towards gender equality.”

What are the biggest challenges when collecting gender-statistics?

“Despite improvements over time, many challenges in gender statistics still exist in terms of data availability, quality, comparability and timeliness, even for basic indicators. For example, according to the latest UN DESA’s Statistics Division flagship publication – the World’s Women 2015 – only 46 countries were able to provide reliable statistics on deaths disaggregated by sex, based on civil registration systems, at least once for the period 2011–2014. Further, while sex-disaggregated data is crucial, data collection instruments must be designed to accurately capture gender issues. For example, the questions in household surveys are not always properly phrased to capture work in subsistence agriculture, which is more likely to be performed by women than men.”

What are some of the biggest benefits that can be derived from the collection of gender-specific data?

“According to the World’s Women 2015, gender statistics are more available now compared to 20 years ago, thanks to the growing number of data collection mechanisms such as population censuses, household surveys and administrative sources. With this growing availability, policy- and decision-makers can design sound policies that continue to improve the lives of both women and men.”

What are some of the specific areas of gender statistics that are particularly relevant right now?

“Topics that are particularly relevant for gender statistics include violence against women, women’s and men’s unpaid work, gender pay gaps, social protection measures, local governance, individual-level poverty measures, the impact of natural disasters and climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

The 6th Global Forum on Gender Statistics was recently held in Helsinki, Finland.

What will be some of the key issues that the global statistical community will discuss here?

“Much of the discussion at the 6th Global Forum on Gender Statistics will focus on the Sustainable Development Goals Indicator Framework. Specifically, the global statistical community will assess all of the indicators with a gender lens (not just those under Goal 5 on gender quality) to ensure that the best data will be available to monitor progress toward achieving the goals. As part of this process, the forum will examine the challenges faced by National Statistics Offices to produce this data and ways forward.”

Photo: Shari Nijman – UN DESA

For more information:

6th Global Forum on Gender Statistics

UN DESA’s Statistics Division

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