Data for Development

Minding the Gaps

Many countries lack statistics with breakdowns according to sex, economic status and other variables.

For instance, a 2007 expert consultation noted the need for disaggregated data to measure progress in addressing the needs of youth. Data is systematically disaggregated for children under five, but not by sex or for other age groups. Because young people represent a highly diverse group, data about them can have much greater utility when disaggregated by age subgroups (10-14, 15-19, and 20-24) and, when possible, by educational level, marital status, place of residence, and living arrangements.

Gaps exist in many areas such relative to the work of UNPFA, such as:

  • Women's reproductive health, especially maternal mortality and morbidity
  • Women’s unpaid work at home and in the informal sectors
  • Migration, particularly at the regional and international levels
  • Gender issues relevant to planning and implementing emergency responses
  • Coordinated sets of indicators and methodologies to ensure comparability of statistics
  • Longitudinal data to track individuals or households over time

Disaggregating data

"A gender perspective should be adopted in all processes of policy formulation and implementation and in the delivery of services, especially in sexual and reproductive health, including family planning. This includes the development and availability of sex-disaggregated data and appropriate indicators for monitoring progress at the national level."

—Para 46, Key Actions for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action of the ICPD

Gender-sensitive indicators make gender biases more visible and help measure gender-related changes in society over time. They can therefore make an important contribution to policy. When data is disaggregated by sex, it can provide a more accurate picture of women’s economic contributions to society, and make visible their unpaid labour in the family and in the informal sector. In many places, the very concept of work does not include the undocumented labour of women, such as small-scale farming, work in the informal sector, and water and firewood collection. Thus, significant economic contributions of women are unreported and, often, unrecognized.

To address this situation, UNFPA has contributed to the creation of Gender Info 2007, a global database of gender statistics and indicators on a wide range of policy areas, including: population, families, health, education, work, and political participation. It can be used by governments, international organizations, advocacy groups, researchers and others in need of statistics for planning, analysis, advocacy and awareness-raising. This easy-to-use tool sheds light on gender issues through customizable tables, graphs and maps.

Women count — but are not counted

Much of the work that women do is 'invisible' in national accounting and censuses, despite its obvious productive and social worth. One reason for this undercounting is that women’s activities tend to be concentrated in small-scale agriculture, the informal sector and the home – areas for which data are still deficient. In addition, women’s work is often unpaid – including that devoted to carrying water, collecting fuel, processing and cooking food and caring for children.

The low value attached to women’s work requires a fundamental remedy: an accurate accounting of its contribution to development and overall social welfare. To do this requires much better gender-specific data, particularly for the informal and agricultural sectors.

The World's Women Trends and Statistics

Every five years, the United Nations Statistics Division issues a report that reviews the status of women through the lens of statistical data and analysis.

The World's Women is a statistical source-book that provides a comprehensive analysis of how women fare in different parts of the world. It highlights, through statistical analysis, women's situation as compared to men's worldwide in a broad range of fields – including families, health, education, work, human rights and politics. The World’s Women 2005: Progress in Statistics, focuses on official statistics relevant to monitoring progress toward achievement of gender equality.