New ways to measure poverty from a gender perspective

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Gender statistics are key for evidence-based policy-making and monitoring progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment. However, gaps in available data have been a serious impediment to informed and effective policy-making on gender issues.

To undertake gender-sensitive development assessments and studies of the structural causes underlying gender inequality, data are needed and those may not be collected by national statistical units on a regular basis. The Global Forum on Gender Statistics gave statisticians and policy-makers an opportunity to share experiences and design strategies to accelerate the process of gender mainstreaming into national statistical systems.

The Global Forum on Gender Statistics, organized by the UN Statistics Division (UNSD), in collaboration with UN-Women, the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, the World Bank and The United Nations Population Fund , was held in Jordan, close to the Dead Sea, from 27-29 March and hosted by the national Statistics Department of Jordan.

The event addressed economic, political physical and knowledge or information-related empowerment. It also reviewed progress in measuring youth-related issues such as early marriage and the consequences on girls.

The high-level panel discussion on “Mainstreaming Gender into National Statistical Systems” highlighted the need to use both quantitative and qualitative analysis, to institutionalise gender mainstreaming, to foster dialogue between data producers and users, and to link indicator collection and usage when monitoring programme efficiency.

Panels on women’s economic empowerment stressed the need to identify the underlying causes of women’s lack of employment opportunities, including structural factors such as social norms and cultural factors. Innovative ways to measure poverty from a gender perspective have to be identified and effective ways to communicate data/findings to policy-makers, civil society and other stakeholders must be found. Promoting the development of measurement standards is key to measuring the informal/formal employment continuum. It also allows to better understand the links between unpaid family work in agriculture and poverty (including by considering household structure), to promote the implementation of Time Use Surveys (to better understand gender roles), to aggregate data to assess development progress as a whole and to produce satellite accounts on unpaid work.

In the realm of physical empowerment, the measurement of violence against women (VAW) and other harmful practices has been addressed, and participants agreed on the need to: promote the use of the new UNSD Guidelines for the measurement of VAW, including their adaptation to national context and the specific needs of conflict and post-conflict countries; promote harmonized gender-sensitive data collection on refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP); develop adequate monitoring and evaluation frameworks that allow to identify evidence-based interventions aiming at eradicating Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and other harmful practices.

The need for actualised data on political empowerment at the national and sub-national levels, including disaggregated data to capture gender disparities was stressed, as well as the need to improve the analysis of decision-making dynamics in the household.

Participants of the meeting noted that  not only education, but also women’s role in science and access to information, media and technology should be measured; and how to best translate statistics into policy-making and implementation to improve knowledge empowerment of women.

Finally, the Forum participants agreed on the way forward, including on recommendations to be taken into account in the work programme of the Inter-Agency and Expert Group on Gender Statistics (IAEG-GS) and also on topics to be discussed at the next Forum, which will be held in 2014 in the Latin America and Caribbean region.

This Forum was the fourth of a series of events launched by the IAEG-GS at its first meeting in 2006. UNSD acting as the IAEG-GS, Secretariat will continue to coordinate the Global Gender Statistics Programme, in close collaboration with UN Women and the World Bank, to address recommendations made by the Forum and requests made by countries in other international and inter-governmental consultation processes, including the UN Statistical Commission.

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