How can gender-sensitive indicators be used to improve the relevance and quality of basic services for women? This guide offers suggestions and tools to help in developing and using appropriate indicators for various contexts. Sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive indicators are essential for delivering gender-sensitive services that recognise the different roles, needs and situations of women and men. Indicators can also be used to challenge and inspire others to change their thinking on gender issues.
Women need access to services that enable them to fully develop and use their capabilities and that support the full realisation of their human rights. These include health and education services, employment and economic services, and services that are fundamental components of governance itself, such as electoral and related political services, civil registration, and legal, justice and police services.
There is, however, a lack of indicators that directly measure the delivery of services, particularly to women: gender-related data, databases and indicators only indirectly address the delivery of services; and governance assessments, data and indicators rarely directly address the delivery of services, particularly to women. There are some examples, however, of methods and frameworks that may help to address these gaps, focusing on processes and at the national or sub-national levels.
- Most data are collected by methods that were developed before there was a general awareness that women and men have different roles, needs and priorities. While results might be disaggregated by sex, the underlying data does not take these differences into account.
- Many countries still use the head of household approach to household interview. This almost guarantees that at least 70 per cent of respondents will be men. It is also assumed that the male household head can accurately respond on behalf of female members of the household.
- Data are often not analysed separately for females and males. Sex differences are often not incorporated into the design and delivery of services. For example, not disaggregating urban/rural education data will conceal the fact that females make up the largest proportion of the rural population with low education.
- Data analysis often does not take account of role differences between females and males. Different biological and gender roles can have an impact on needs for and access to basic services.
- The 2001 round of Nepal’s Population and Housing Census is an important model for compiling gender-sensitive statistics. It involved a comprehensive (almost two-year) review of the data collection, analysis and dissemination process, and close collaboration between women’s groups, gender experts and the national statistics office. It sought to incorporate women’s concerns and a gender perspective at every stage of the data collection and dissemination processes.
A series of simple checks can be used as a guide towards more gender-sensitive use of existing indicators and the development of more gender-sensitive indicators.
- Is data gender-sensitive? If new data collection is involved, gender-sensitive methods of data definition, collection and analysis should be built into the process. Any lack of gender sensitivity in the data should be factored into analysis. Look for alternative sources that capture gender issues. Include gender-awareness training for all involved.
- Is data analysis sex-disaggregated? All individual-level data should be disaggregated by sex. Sex differences should also be incorporated into other disaggregations, such as age group or ethnicity.
- Is data analysis gender-sensitive? With data that cannot be disaggregated by sex, analyse it in terms of differences due to gender roles or biological differences. Primary collection of process-related data should also be considered. Participatory methods can involve both service providers and users.