Monday, 3 February 2014

Women's socio-economic empowerment: where are the data gaps?

This blog, written by Wikigender Coordinator Estelle Loiseau, give the highlights of the Wikigender online discussion on "Data Gaps on Gender Equality", which in its first week focused on the socio-economic empowerment of women.

Wow, this is impressive - 48 comments in the first week of the discussion! This not only shows high interest, but also gives an idea of the importance of the topic. Last week we heard from you on where has progress been made in the area of data on gender equality since the establishment of the MDGs in 2000, as well as where the gaps are and where improvements can be made. So, where do we stand?

We can say that participants agreed that there has been progress, notably in the area of sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive data (but with important limitations) and also in terms of the quality, analysis and dissemination of gender statistics. However, more efforts are needed in several areas, for example regarding the data collection at country level and in certain specific sectors like agriculture or aquaculture and fisheries. Also, a number of new areas of research and priority areas were brought to the fore. Let's take a look in detail...

Data issues mentioned

  • Comparability of data at EU level, within OECD countries and beyond, within and across regions
  • Common standards, harmonised data and definitions
  • Coverage in terms of countries, type of policy and time trends (e.g. for indicators on policies that promote women's socio-economic empowerment)
  • Lack of continuity between surveys 
  • Data gaps in access to finance and land, and data gaps in agriculture, among others
  • Capacity building of National Statistics Offices
  • Many surveys are not gender-sensitive, e.g. in agriculture
  • Data demand/use needs to be enhanced
"When it comes to data on entrepreneurship, it seems that data collection is greatly impaired by problems of definitions. There are no agreed definitions of what 'entrepreneurship' means, although it is regarded as a driver for social inclusion, empowerment and growth."                                                                                                  - Anne Laure Humbert

New areas of research and suggestions

  • Time-use: to better understand women's participation in the labour market and the balance of family and work responsibilities
  • Unpaid work: to make sure that women's contribution in the area of care is accounted for in the economic measures
  • Social norms: to better understand the power imbalances at household level, which have an impact on women's empowerment at society level
  • Fiscal policy: to better recognise women's contribution to the economy, one could disaggregate taxpayers' data by sex
  • Technology: to develop a measurement framework to evaluate empowerment within technology initiatives where women are central players (e.g. in sectors such as clean cooking)
"ECLAC (...) has been key in moving forward with time use surveys and in that sense achieving comparability inasmuch as possible. This is creating the possibility to use these surveys to construct satellite accounts that can serve for policy design, but also micro simulation and other uses."                                                                                 - Elizabeth Villagomez

Priority areas

  • Earning gaps, including from self employment
  • Unpaid work
  • Informal work, especially with a focus on poor women
  • Systematic inclusion of age and sex in data collection, including old age
"We need more countries to collect data on informal employment (...), including on specific categories of informal workers such as domestic workers, home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers and we need data on the earnings of the self employed."                                                                                                                     - Joann Vanek, WIEGO
To improve data quality, availability and coverage, participants emphasised: South-South cooperation and support from donors and international agencies; more political will for gender equality (e.g. Africa); strong advocacy for new research areas and priority areas; continued capacity building at country level; systematic inclusion of data at country level in global reports; national action plans; and more.

Many examples of initiatives and programmes were mentioned, including: PARIS21's data revolution; HBSC's data collection work on the health and well-being of adolescents; a measurement framework for monitoring equality and human rights in Great Britain by the UK's Equality and Human Rights Commission; the OECD Gender Data Portal; Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index; and many more! 

The discussion during week 1 was particularly rich and interactive. This summary does not provide a full picture of the various mini-discussions which took place at several levels on some of the above-mentioned areas. Click here to read the full thread of comments and engage further!

This second week (3-9 February), we turn the focus on data gaps in the area of violence against women. See the questions asked for week 2 and join in the conversation!

*The discussion is brought to you by Wikigender, the UN FoundationHealth Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC), the EU-LAC FoundationEuropean Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), ECLAC and PARIS21 - and in collaboration with Wikiprogress and Wikichild.

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