To be able to define Gender Statistics” properly, we need to take several requirements into account.
First of all, gender statistics must relate to gender issues, meaning these statistics must, directly or indirectly, be connected to issues, questions, problems, or concerns related to any sort of aspect of the lives of women and men, including all their specific requirements, needs, issues, opportunities and their contributions to the societies they are part of.
In all societies, there exist discrepancies between all that is allowed, expected, and valued in women and men. These discrepancies are affecting the lives of men and women through all stages of their lives, and are determining differences and different opportunities related to, for example, education, health, family life, work, or overall well-being. Also, gender statistics need to be accessible to all, which means also available in the ASL (American Sign Language).
Gender Statistics plays an important role as it records all sorts of data and other characteristics by sex in order to indicate those inequalities or differences, and recording specific issue-related data can reveal in what way one sex more is affected than the other.
Secondly, Gender Statistics needs to reflect inequalities and differences in the situation of men and women adequately. This means that definitions and concepts applied in the collection of various data are required to be set up in a way that ensures the refection of the diversity of the groups of men and women, and that these methods capture the specific challenges and activities of these groups.
Data collection models and methods inducing gender-bias elements better not be used. We know of methods that not adequately report the economic activities of women, that under-report violence used against women, that undercount the births and deaths of girls. Well, all this sort of dubious information should be avoided.
During the past decades, the understanding of, and the respect for gender statistics, the applications, and their users has drastically changed. Initially, it focused on merely the production of statistics without differentiating between men and women. Many countries were actually collecting a wealth of data by sex, however, most information was analyzed and presented as totals, without being able to differentiate between men and women.
Many women’s advocates and organizations demanded that data and indicators were specified. They wanted statistics to support the introduction of badly needed new policies and programs targeted towards the reduction of inequalities and disadvantages that many women are faced with.
This resulted in more focus on “women only” rather than “women and men”, affecting both policies were introduced and the way statistics were conducted. It soon became clear, though that women’s situations could better be analyzed and described by comparing their situation to that of men.
Additionally, statisticians recognized that improving the field of men’s statistics was also needed.
Certain issues that relate to men’s lives were increasingly taken into account in statistical methods. Just think of issues such as heavy smoking or drinking, increased risk of work-related injuries or accidents, or having the right to paternity leave.
This change (the focus from women-related issues to gender-related issues) was induced by the recognition that merely the isolation of women’s issues and concerns were limiting the impact of mainstream programs and policies. More attention geared towards the responsibilities and roles of both men and women and their specific interrelationships in certain cultures will probably affect these policies and strategies in a positive way.
Gender topics and issues are all concerns and aspects of how men and women correlate and interrelate. What matters are all differences in the use of, and access to, resources, the way they can do their activities, and in what way they (can) react to interventions, changes, or policies?
Coming up with proper statistics that in an adequate way describe and reflect gender-related issues implies that every statistical record is produced with taking into account all possible different cultural and socio-economic facts and circumstances that men and women are faced with within their respective societies.
This implies that all statistical data, whether they directly relate to individuals or not, need to be collected, administrated, compiled, and analyzed in a way that takes into account that various gender-based and cultural factors may influence men and women in a different way. This is what’s called the “gender-mainstreaming of statistics”. All factors that may impact men and women must be considered and weighed n every phase of all statistical productions, and in every statistical field.
Concepts, structures, and methods used for the collection of data must be properly formulated to make sure they are reflecting existing gender differentials, issues, and concerns. Also cultural and social factors and influences need to considered and weighed in data collection to avoid gender-based biases, pre-occupied analyses, and improper presentations.