UN report asks governments to improve data collection to better women’s lives

18 January 2006

Statistics on women not only help to track their status but can also directly improve their circumstances, a United Nations report released today argues, recommending that governments gather and publicize more gender-disaggregated data.

“Statistics are unsung yet essential ingredients for economic and social progress,” said Jose Antonio Ocampo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, launching The World’s Women 2005: Progress in Statistics at a press conference in New York.

The absence of data to analyze issues such as sex discrimination poses a serious problem. “One of the most pronounced shortcomings in this area, with the most damaging effects, appears in the collection of data disaggregated by sex and of data focusing on gender issue,” he said.

Mary Chamie, Chief of the Demographic and Social Statistics Branch of the UN Statistics Division, agreed that States need help with gathering and reporting data. “Commitment to the Millennium Development Goals has been a prod to improved statistical collection,” she said, referring to the internationally agreed anti-poverty targets adopted at a 2000 UN summit meeting.

“But big gaps in reporting remain, and we want to assist governments and donors to close them,” she added.

The report, prepared by the UN’s Statistical Division, provides a blueprint for improving the availability of data in demographics, health, education, work, violence against women, poverty, human rights and decision-making.

The UN plays a key role within the global statistical community by collecting, compiling, reporting and analyzing data. UN recommendations, for example, will be taken up by intergovernmental bodies such as the Commission on the Status of Women, the Commission on Social Development and the Statistical Commission.

Among its recommendations, the 165-page report suggests that governments carry out a census every 10 years and to improve gender statistics, ensure the viability of an integrated national survey programme, and share information with policy makers and the public in a timely manner so it can be used to good effect.


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