Gender statistics are defined as statistics that adequately reflect differences and inequalities in the situation of women and men in all areas of life (United Nations, 2006). This definition closely follows the Beijing Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995, which requested national, regional and international statistical services to ‘ensure that statistics related to individuals are collected, compiled, analysed and presented by sex and age and reflect problems, issues and questions related to women and men in society’ (United Nations, 1995, para 206 (a)).

There are several requirements imbedded in the definition of gender statistics (Hedman et al, 1996; United Nations, 2001a; 2001b; 2002; 2006; 2007; Corner, 2003). First, gender statistics have to reflect gender issues – questions, problems and concerns related to all aspects of women’s and men’s lives, including their specific needs, opportunities, or contributions to society. In every society there are differences between what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman and what is expected allowed and valued in a man. These differences have a specific impact on women’s and men’s lives throughout all life stages, and determine, for example, differences in health, education, work, family life, or general well-being.

Producing gender statistics entails disaggregating individual data by sex and other characteristics to reveal those differences or inequalities, and collecting data on specific issues that affect one sex more than the other or relate to gender relations between women and men. Second, gender statistics should adequately reflect differences and inequalities in the situation of women and men. It means that concepts and definitions used in data collection are developed in such a way that the diversity of various groups of women and men, their specific activities and challenges are captured. Also, data collection should be based on methods that reduce gender bias in data collection, such as underreporting of women’s economic activity, underreporting of violence against women, or undercounting of girls, their births or their deaths.
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