The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) has announced its involvement in an international partnership to improve civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems in the Asia-Pacific region.
Shun-ichi Murata, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary, hailed the partnership, announced in New York yesterday at an event that included former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the city’s former Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who represented Data2X, ESCAP’s partner, which is an international initiative aiming to close gender gaps.
“Leaving no one behind will be a core tenet of the post-2015 development agenda, and providing every man, woman, girl and boy a legal identity, and including them in official statistics that should guide the decisions we make, are absolutely critical to achieving this aim,” said Mr. Murata. “This partnership with Data2x is a significant step in that direction.”
Data2X is an initiative led by the UN Foundation that works to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment through improved data collection, which can be used to guide policy and spur global economic and social progress.
The partnership aims to mainstream the gender dimension in national and regional CRVS plans as part of ESCAP’s “Get Every One in the Picture” initiative and Mr. Murata hailed the announcement as an important milestone, coming on the heels of a Ministerial Conference on CRVS in the region, where ESCAP member States’ governments’ made historic commitments to improve civil registration, legal documentation and statistics before the end of the Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade in 2024.
During the Decade, the partners will work together to advocate for the importance of CRVS and promote gender equality by giving particular attention to the challenges faced by women and girls to getting a legal identity and being included in official statistics.
Only four of the 58 States in the ESCAP region have reliable systems for registering deaths and recording medical causes of death. Such systems are vital for monitoring disease trends and producing evidence to inform public health and social policies.
Meanwhile, it is estimated that 135 million children under the age of five in the region have not had their births registered, which means they are formally non-existent and may be unable to attend school, visit a doctor, vote or own property. With no official trace of their existence, they are also more vulnerable in natural disasters and emergencies.
While there is no gender gap between the registration of the births of boys and girls, the lack of registration for women and girls can have disproportionately damaging impacts. Unregistered mothers are far less likely to register their children, creating a vicious cycle of official ‘invisibility’ and contributing to persistent poverty.