Gender statistics

This module of the NSDS guidelines complements the NSDS Lifecycle and seeks to help its readers, including national statistical offices (NSOs), line ministries and gender equality advocates, to understand the importance of addressing challenges related to gender data during statistical planning processes, and throughout their implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Building a gender-responsive statistical system, the ambition of this module’s guidance, requires a recognition that statistics are a “gendered” area. National Statistical Systems (NSSs) and other non-state data producers need to adequately represent the situations, conditions and concerns of the whole population -- in all its diversity -- to appropriately address the most important policy issues of modern societies and economies. An awareness that women, men and diverse sub-populations   can have different life experiences and react differently to policies and programmes provides the basis for inclusive governance.

Integrating a gender perspective in the data value chain   implies that all data producers and users recognise that collection, dissemination and use of data and statistics are all gender-sensitive processes. Furthermore, the crosscutting nature of gender statistics makes them an ideal magnifying glass for identifying capacity shortfalls in NSSs. Gender data actors, including data producers and users, as well as gender equality advocates, need to be better integrated in the planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation of statistical systems that serve citizens. This module helps to identify opportunities and entry points for such integration in the political, technical and administrative proceedings of the NSDS Lifecycle.

These guidelines address key issues in mainstreaming gender statistics by:

  1. Outlining a business case for focusing on gender statistics to improve the overall efficiency of the NSS through strengthened coordination as well as intra- and inter-institutional exchange and dialogue.
  2. Calling for an increased awareness-raising and promotion of the basic understanding of gender statistics in statistical planning, and as a key element of advocacy for gender equality.
  3. Putting gender statistics users at the heart of the data value chain to build rewarding partnerships when designing data collection, filling data gaps and scaling up data use.

This module was developed as part of Paris21's partnership with UN Women under the framework of the “Making Every Woman and Girl Count” project (hereafter, “Women Count”). “Women Count” aims to: a) promote an enabling policy environment to address institutional and financial constraints and to strengthen policies and practices governing the production and use of gender statistics; b) support efforts to increase regular production of gender statistics; and c) improve access to and use of gender statistics to inform policy advocacy. These guidelines consolidate lessons learned from ongoing efforts to mainstream gender statistics in statistical planning in nine pilot countries.  

This gender statistics module is part of PARIS21’s online NSDS Guidelines, and is intended to be used alongside the larger NSDS lifecycle. It will remain a living document; lessons learned from the finalisation of country pilots, including influence of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but also further uses, will enrich its chapters in the future.


For the purposes of this module, gender statistics refer to gender-specific information collected and compiled by the NSS, as well as other data producers. Gender statistics are used in monitoring progress towards gender equality and the full and equal enjoyment of all human and fundamental rights by all.   They provide evidence for developing and monitoring policies and programmes oriented towards better investments in economic, human and environmental capital.   Gender statistics bear the following characteristics:
  • they are collected and presented disaggregated by sex;  
  • they reflect gender issues, including questions, problems and concerns related to gender equality, as well as the unique opportunities and/or barriers different genders encounter in society;
  • they are based on concepts and definitions that adequately reflect the diversity of the population and capture all aspects of their lives;
  • their methods for collection and analysis, as well as their dissemination and communication, take into account stereotypes and social and cultural factors that may induce gender bias.  
Gender-sensitive analysis of data and statistics should go beyond simply disaggregating data according to sex. Rather, it should consider the underlying gender relations which are reflected in the data.   The quality of information provided from different sources of gender statistics depends on many factors, including the concepts, definitions and classifications used, as well as the design of questionnaires, data collection methods, or even the enumerators’ approach. Gender bias can arise in any of these areas, highlighting the need for multidimensional capacity development to deliver more and better gender data.  
Over the past 40 years, the production and use of gender statistics significantly improved, especially through the development of international standards and protocols for sex-disaggregation, as well as the collection of data on specific gender issues, such as violence against women and time-use. Many countries saw a growing acknowledgement of the importance of gender statistics for designing policies and assessing progress towards gender equality and inclusive development. However, despite these advances, significant gaps remain; only 17 per cent of the gender statistics needed to monitor key national and international policy commitments are currently available. Moreover, where data is available, information is often collected only for one point in time and without additional disaggregations (e.g., age, race, geographic location). Ultimately, these gaps hamper efforts to monitor and evaluate development progress and leave no one behind.  

The main sources of official gender statistics include:
  1. Censuses and surveys conducted by NSOs and government institutions. These instruments provide nationally- (as well as locally-) representative information on individuals, households or enterprises.  
  2. Administrative data, including facility-generated service and administrative records (e.g. from hospitals, schools, civil registers, tax authorities, business registers etc.), as well as policies, laws, and regulations that are developed through political processes.  
Different institutions, including national statistical offices (NSOs), line ministries and state agencies and facilities, collect gender data.   The data these institutions collect cut across different policy areas and statistical themes, such as demography, labour force, agriculture, education, entrepreneurship, crime and justice, among many others. The NSO typically holds the primary role in compiling official gender statistics based on the data they collect, as well as data from other institutions. In addition to these primary sources, NSOs and other gender data stakeholders are looking closely at re-use of non-official sources of data, especially when non-official data can help to close gaps in official statistics. Non-official gender data can provide timely and cost-efficient insights on the socio-economic status and wellbeing of women and girls, for example. These data cover a wide range of sources including, for example, transactional and crowdsourced data from mobile phones and the internet, online search and social network feeds, as well as remote sensing data from satellites. Non-state actors may also produce non-official data for their own business or statutory purposes. For example, non-governmental institutions may collect “citizen-generated data” to engage with their constituencies.   It is an important to recognize, however, that gender data originating from non-traditional or administrative sources may not always be suitable for statistical purposes. As interest in non-official sources of gender data increase, this raises the importance of understanding and enabling strategic engagement with a wider set of stakeholders. A gender data ecosystem can be understood as the constellation of actors in a country that contribute to the production, dissemination, uptake and use of gender data. Beyond the NSO and line ministries, it includes a wide range of external actors, key financing institutions, relevant coordination bodies (whether institutionalized or not), and advocates that engage in or support causes related to women, men, children or LGBTQI+. These include, for example:
  • Government ministries focused on addressing gender issues, such as ministries of women, ministries of family or ministries of gender;
  • Ministries of finance and/or ministries of planning, which hold a mandate for funding the NSS and national development agendas;
  • Other relevant line ministries that use and/or produce gender data, such as ministries of health, education, agriculture, environment, labor and social protection;
  • Gender equality institutes and non-governmental organisations that promote women’s empowerment;
  • Civil society organisations;
  • International organisations, such as UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, regional UN agencies;
  • Development partners;
  • Research centres, think tanks and academic institutions;
  • Private sector and financial institutions;
  • Influencers and opinion leaders; and
  • Media and journalists.
The NSDS can be helpful in guiding and mobilising the wider ecosystem of data actors in the country, going beyond data producers. The NSDS is a public document, which sets an agenda explicitly for the NSS (e.g. government). However, its implementation depends on policymakers and therefore the mobilization of gender equality advocates (sometimes referred to as “women’s machineries”) is a necessary condition for the success of the NSDS and gender statistics.


An NSDS is a strategic plan that guides the priorities for data production, dissemination, and use for the NSS, as well as overall statistical capacity development, typically for a 5- to 10-year period. For this reason, the NSDS design process is an important entry point to elevate the profile of gender statistics and expand data availability to monitor progress toward gender equality.
The NSDS also guides engagement with the wider data ecosystem and requires vertical (e.g. national and sub-national), horizontal (e.g. sectoral, subject-matter) and traverse (e.g. crosscutting) consultations between data producing institutions as well as a strong engagement with data users. The crosscutting nature of gender statistics makes them an integral part of almost all sectoral data strategies that will form the basis of an NSDS. However, the same transversal aspect makes gender statistics especially difficult to coordinate.
Depending on the country context and related institutional set-up, different agencies assume responsibility for different areas of gender data collection, processing and dissemination. While NSOs are usually one of the core gender statistics producers, line ministries also bear varying levels of ownership and responsibility for gender data production and use. The lead ministry (or ministries) in charge of advancing gender equality are especially critical here, as their active role in the NSDS process is vital to motivate improvements in gender statistics.
The NSDS lifecycle engages the following processes that are key to improving gender statistics:
  • STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT: The NSDS process provides an opportunity to address ongoing limitations in statistical production, dissemination, and use in the medium and long-term. Gender statistics can benefit from these improvements through statistical development and increased policy-alignment. Specifically, an NSDS provides a comprehensive policy framework to address gender statistics and capacity gaps to provide a more regular and timely supply of gender statistics.
  • POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT: An NSDS document is political in nature, and its design requires both the authorisation and active participation of government decision-makers. This is of vital importance to gender statistics, as their value is often not fully understood or appreciated by policymakers. This frequently translates to under-resourced and missing gender-responsive budgets for data collection. Explicit integration of gender statistics in an NSDS can draw attention of policymakers to this field, increase their awareness of gender issues, and enable resource mobilisation to close gender data gaps.
  • PARTICIPATORY ENGAGEMENT: The NSDS is a consultative and participatory process that is intended to be as inclusive as possible; user-producer dialogue is an integral part of NSDS lifecycle. This provides a great opportunity for non-governmental actors, including gender equality champions and advocates, to engage with the NSS to raise the visibility of priority gender issues that need to be measured and monitored.


One of the goals of the NSDS is to address institutional and systemic barriers that affect the production of relevant, coherent and timely statistics. Applying a gender lens is useful in this regard, as multiple areas of statistical capacity are required to identify and close gaps in gender statistics. PARIS21’s Capacity Development 4.0 (CD4.0)   framework groups these capacity requirements into three levels: the systemic, the organisational and the individual.
SYSTEMIC LEVEL: referring to enabling mechanisms in the national data ecosystem
  1. Enabling legal environment: The NSDS process provides a good opportunity to raise awareness around gaps in current legal frameworks that inhibit production and use of gender statistics, which holds benefits for the statistical system overall. Changes in statistical legislation may be needed to provide an enabling environment for better statistics that more accurately reflect the full picture of the society. Moreover, the production of gender statistics may be hampered by NSO’s limited right to access administrative and non-official data sources for statistical purposes.   Broadly, there is often untapped potential in these data sources to provide a more granular and well-rounded picture of gender equality.
  2. Trust and institutional reputation: Timely production and regular communication of granular gender statistics that are relatable to citizens can increase public awareness and promote trust in data.  Hence, mainstreaming gender statistics in the NSS via an NSDS supports the government’s capacity to align public services and citizen needs, which is critical in strengthening trust in official statistics and in government institutions. The NSDS provides a framework to improve communication and dissemination of official data to reflect gender differences, which can serve as a key step forward in this regard.  
  3. User-producer dialogue: as referenced above, gender statistics users can come from both government and non-governmental entities. The inclusion of the wider gender data ecosystem in the NSDS process can help to identify genders data needs, develop indicators and methodologies for data collection, improve data coverage, and enhance relevance of statistics to support gender equality. Ultimately, these mechanisms for dialogue can support greater uptake and use of gender statistics for policy and programme design.
  4. NSS coordination mechanisms: Since multiple NSS institutions are involved in gender data collection, analysis and use, collaboration is essential to avoid duplication and improve prioritisation. Tapping into NSS-wide gender data production is also a good way to assess the functioning of NSS coordination mechanisms and how they shape inter-agency exchange and data governance. An inclusive, multi-stakeholder NSDS process can jump-start improved collaboration between stakeholders and break down institutional silos. Coordination mechanisms can be embodied in inter-agency working groups or committees to provide a platform for sustained dialogue during NSDS implementation.   In order for these structures to be effective, they need to have a well-defined objectives and be led by a relevant ministry.
  5. Awareness and political support: Despite important political milestones like the Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW or SDGs, as well as growing visibility of gender issues in public discourse, data collection processes in many countries often remain gender blind. Government institutions (and their staff) face competing demands and resource constraints that inhibit appropriate prioritisation of gender statistics. An NSDS design process provides a space to reassess how much attention is given to measure gender issues and to connect policy commitments to statistical development priorities.
ORGANISATIONAL level: focusing on actors (organisations) and their actions in the gender data ecosystem
  1. Organisational structure: Designing interventions to strengthen gender statistics requires identifying and responding to the organisational structures in which solutions will be deployed. In many cases, NSOs and other gender data producers in the NSS may lack a dedicated unit to work on gender statistics. The creation of such a unit can help ensure sustainability of gender statistics production over time. Alternatively, the production of gender statistics may remain diffused across an organisation, requiring a clear mapping of roles and responsibilities for gender focal points in various departments and units.  
  2. Organisational communication: Since gender is a cross-cutting issue in statistics, different departments may not be fully aware of others’ efforts to close gender data gaps. A designated focal point or unit is essential for to develop effective communication channels and implement a clear, harmonised agenda to facilitate the organisation of gender-related activities and increase efficiency.
  3. Knowledge and expertise: Presenting more granular data, broken down by sex and other characteristics, such as age, geography or migratory status, provides a more accurate picture of the activities and characteristics of the population. Thus, improving gender statistics has an important role to play in improving the output of the NSO and other official data producers, demonstrating increased competency in statistical production. Achieving this goal requires specialised knowledge in a number of areas. A holistic approach to gender statistics will require technical capacities to assess survey methodologies, questionnaire design, and sampling strategies to ensure gender-sensitivity. Gender statistics also require specialized approaches to analysis and communication, such as intersectional analysis of disaggregated data.
  4. Data quality, coverage and adherence to standards: The NSDS process provides an opportunity to mainstream a gender perspective in data collection and analysis and, as such, should be seen as part of the overall process of improving the quality of data produced by the NSS. This may require reviews of gender issues in various projects and publications, including survey coverage and design, as well as data protection and access protocols for disaggregated data.
  5. Financial resources: issues of cost to ensure that the instruments used to collect and disseminate gender data, including special surveys, are made available and sustained. In addition, missing or limited IT infrastructure  represents one of the key bottlenecks in sharing gender data between government institutions.  Resource limitations are especially visible when reporting on indicators that rely heavily on administrative sources or require multi-stage compilation and validation (e.g. mortality statistics).
INDIVIDUAL LEVEL referring to individuals who affect the gender-sensitivity of statistical and political processes
  1. Leadership: The ability of leaders and gender focal points in key institutions in the NSS to build value-case for gender data, communicate clear messages, and mobilise networks as well as their strategic networking and negotiation skills are key to the successful initiatives that aim at strengthening the gender-sensitive and inclusive statistical systems. Bold leaders have the potential to incentivise their staff to apply strong work ethic and mission-orientation.
  2. Training (technical skills and know-how): This encompasses to building in-house technical capacity as well as training delivery for gender data users. Are NSS staff trained to collect and analyse data in ways that mitigate implicit or explicit gender bias? Is training delivered to the right people within an organisation? Are key users aware of how to use and present data to avoid perpetuating gender stereotypes? In many countries, systematic and government-wide training on gender-sensitivity in regular data collection is still missing. Thus, the design of a new NSDS presents an opportunity to strengthen staff capacity for gender statistics. Training can be linked to data quality aspects, such as improving data collection by analysing the wording of survey questions, reviewing sample designs, as well as identifying so-called “interviewer-effects”.   Training core data users outside the NSS is also of key importance, as some of them enjoy a wide public reach of their work, and therefore, hold significant potential to amplify the impact of gender statistics.
  3. Individual “soft-skills”: staff working in design, production, coordination and dissemination of gender statistics require a strong set of soft-skills in areas such as strategic networking, negotiation, self-motivation and time-management to make progress. For this reason, government statisticians are rarely delegated to deal with gender statistics and analysis as their main focus – it is often assigned in addition to other tasks. Furthermore, building momentum around gender statistics can be a challenging exercise, due to political and resource considerations, as well as limited prioritisation. For this reason, it is essential to invest in non-technical areas of capacity development to achieve and sustain progress.
It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive. Strengthening capacity for gender statistics requires both a long-term vision and a set of concrete (short-term) actions. The NSDS process provides a means to facilitate this dual endeavor, as well as a framework to recognize and respond to different levels of capacity: from the system to individuals. Holistic efforts to develop and strengthen capabilities across all levels can meaningfully improve the status and quality of gender statistics.


This chapter defines and highlights the key steps for improving gender data within the NSDS lifecycle, which consists of three stages and seven phases. While it is important to make sure gender issues are considered throughout the NSDS lifecycle, we can distill from this process three strategic entry-points affecting gender statistics:
  1. Identifying and engaging stakeholders, starting with an exercise of mapping of all gender data actors, decision makers and advocates.
  2. Assessing the current state of gender statistics, including data production, dissemination and use, as well as the enabling legal, institutional and political environment for gender statistics.
  3. Developing strategies to improve gender statistics that ensure sectoral strategies and the overall NSDS are gender data-sensitive. Based on the results of the assessment, insights and recommendations identified should be tailored to overarching frameworks for data planning, including the NSDS. Strategic objectives and activities related to gender statistics may be introduced through a standalone gender statistics strategy to inform NSDS design and implementation, or as direct inputs into an ongoing NSDS design process. The latter is regarded as best practice to facilitate more holistic gender mainstreaming. Strategy development should be undertaken in close consultation with stakeholders in the gender data ecosystem to balance ambition with practical realities of implementation.

The preliminary stage of the NSDS lifecycle creates an enabling environment to develop the NSDS by:
  • Defining the policy and organisational frameworks for the NSDS in alignment with the data demands reflected in the national development plan, as well as regional and international development agendas;
  • Reviewing legal and operational mechanisms for data production and exchange, including the current statistics law;  
  • Increasing awareness among, and ensuring the participation of, key stakeholders, authorities, and governing bodies; and
  • Formulating the plan of action to produce the NSDS, including key entry points to mainstream gender and assess gender statistics.
The preliminary work is carried out in two phases: 1) engaging with the stakeholders of statistics; and 2) preparing the institutional framework for the NSDS design and deployment.

This phase introduces a framework for multi-stakeholder engagement in the NSDS lifecycle. The NSDS process requires consultations with a wide range of actors, both within and outside government, to facilitate inclusive and participatory approaches to improve gender statistics.
To effectively engage all relevant stakeholders, consider the following intermediate activities:
  • Map the gender data ecosystem. As described above, a gender data ecosystem can be understood as the constellation of data producers and users in your country. It is important for NSDS coordinators who aim at strengthening gender data to be aware of the possible partnerships (within the NSS and beyond) and to consider the power dynamics that shape opportunities for collaboration and data exchange between them.   Depending on the country set-up, degrees of responsibility and ownership of gender data will vary across institutions. However, given that the NSDS process is led by government agencies, it is essential to identify allies for advancing gender data within the government. These are usually government ministries focusing on advancing on women’s issues, such as ministries of women, ministries of family or ministries of gender. The ministry of finance or ministry of planning are also critical stakeholders to support resource mobilisation. Engaging non-state gender equality advocates will also be beneficial to bring in insights and expertise on key areas that demand more and better gender data and evidence. However, it is important to note that governments differ in their modalities and preferences for engagement with external actors. For example, in countries where civil society is strong and enjoys significant influence, NSDS coordinators can build partnerships with gender equality institutes or CSOs supporting women’s issues and empowerment. International organisations, such as UN Women, UNFPA, UNICEF, and regional UN agencies or development banks, also play a critical role in providing expertise and guidance in low-capacity environments.
  • Create space for dialogue. Establishing frameworks and mechanisms for dialogue to build trust, understanding and commitment among stakeholders is an essential part of the NSDS design process overall, and facilitates an enabling environment for gender mainstreaming. Dialogue can take place at different levels: among data producers, between users and producers, and between producers and citizens. Continual processes of inter-institutional dialogue during the NSDS design (and throughout implementation) can facilitate an increased efficiency in the NSS by improving prioritisation of data needs, reducing duplication and streamlining resources to areas of greatest need and impact. In particular for gender statistics, including multi-stakeholder consultations and plenary discussions in the NSDS design process can help to mitigate a limited understanding of what gender statistics are their value and benefits. Sustainable gender mainstreaming efforts engage a broad range of core political and public actors,   and the same holds for mainstreaming of gender statistics in the NSS and beyond. Depending on the partner, the dialogue can be organised around different stakeholder groups:
    • Intra-institutional dialogue: in case active user-producer engagement is not a common practice, a good way to start is to plan initial meetings among heads of different departments within one institution (e.g. the ministries in charge of women’ affairs, often referenced to as “national women’s machineries”). These meetings can be used to develop a shared understanding of the current position and beliefs department heads have of the importance of gender statistics and the constraints they may face. Challenges related to gender data collection or analysis, as well as the assessment of gender statistics described in section 4.2, will provide a good motivation to launch preliminary discussions. Organising a basic training on gender statistics for statistical staff at the NSO and at line ministries can provide another platform to open dialogue. A good practice would be to pre-survey the departments on their key training needs and challenges that they face.  
    • Discussions with line ministries: should introduce the concept and value of gender statistics. Very often, gender statistics are perceived as solely as those broken down by sex. Depending on the sectoral set-up, discussions can aim to inform stakeholders about the gender-related activities in the NSDS process, especially the planned assessment of current state of gender statistics, as well as opportunities to participate and engage in the process. If there are existing mechanisms for coordinating gender statistics production in the country, the dialogue can also cover the framework for priority gender-specific indicators or the exchange of administrative data among the institutions.
    • Dialoguing with users of statistics outside of the government: As much as broad-based support and buy-in within the government is important, it may be insufficient to expand the coverage of gender topics and the scope of communication. Benefits of partnerships with non-governmental actors, like civil society organisations, research centers and think-tanks are many and the topics of discussions can include, for example:
    • Obtaining more insights about key gender issues in the country   and the user-friendliness of existing dissemination;
      • Discussing methodological efforts to improve the design of the data collection instruments;
      • Exchanging knowledge on strengthening the quality of gender analysis applied to existing data collections;
      • Scaling up outreach of gender statistics and diversifying communication channels.
      • Dialoguing with private sector can explore avenues on collaboration, for example: working with mobile providers on survey tools or tech companies on advanced analytics and geospatial data.
  • Seek the high-level support (e.g. President’s Office, Prime Minister’s Office, parliament, etc.) and engage with institutions and coordination mechanisms that are responsible for advancing gender equality and supporting women’s causes, including ministries of women’s affairs, gender equality institutes or non-governmental organisations promoting women’s empowerment. To ensure the success of efforts to address challenges related to gender data collection and coordination, obtaining interest and commitment of senior-level government officials should be prioritised from the onset of the NSDS design process. The high-level support can strengthen the position of the NSDS coordinators to facilitate effective interventions as well as uptake and use of gender statistics at all levels.  

This phase of the NSDS lifecycle consists of steps to organise, prepare, and mobilise frameworks to implement the NSDS roadmap and produce a unified NSDS document. At this point, the NSDS process is officially recognised and launched by the government. To facilitate the design process, the country NSDS coordination team is designated, alongside a steering or advisory body. The coordination team will engage stakeholders to communicate more about the NSDS and carry out initial work to inform the forthcoming design stage. This is a good entry point to convene inter-agency groups and advisory bodies on gender statistics, where such mechanisms are in place.   These coordination mechanisms can be instrumental in obtaining explicit commitments of government institutions and actors to focus on the area of gender statistics and provide space to reach wider audiences within the government. Where no formal coordinating body for gender statistics exists, the NSDS coordinators can solicit input from key stakeholders on priority action areas to strengthen coordination through the NSDS.
Key actions of NSDS coordinators in this phase should focus primarily on communication, including the following:
  • Share your plans on improving gender statistics with all key stakeholders. Strong political support should help you to assign roles and responsibilities to your partners to make sure the process of designing a gender statistics strategy is participatory, consultative and transparent. Since different countries have different ways of developing statistical strategies, the entry points for gender statistics may not be clear from the outset. Furthermore, depending on the context, the NSDS process can take a year or more to accomplish. It is therefore critical that entities responsible for advancing gender statistics are aware of the NSDS timeline and key allies are positioned to react when the opportunity comes.  
  • Launch a media strategy to ensure transparency and visibility throughout the NSDS lifecycle. In line with wider gender mainstreaming initiatives, efforts to promote better integration of gender statistics in the NSS and beyond should be accompanied by information and awareness-raising campaigns, media strategies and regular reviews. Additional media attention can help to mobilise additional political interest, but also raise the profile of participating institutions and actors by staying open, transparent and accountable.
  • Adapt your communication to different audiences. The case for improving gender statistics will require articulating different arguments to speak to policymakers, civil society or public at large. In particular, the NSDS process may not be easily understood by citizens. It is therefore important to present how sex-disaggregated data or new gender statistics initiatives can shed light on lived realities of women and men in the country. When establishing key messages and communication channels, support from media and civil society advocates for gender equality is very valuable in this regard.

The design stag provides the basis for the NSDS by:
  • Defining strategic directions for the NSS and articulating a strategic framework for the new NSDS;
  • Identifying the results that the NSO and NSS aim to achieve during the NSDS implementation period, and designing a results framework to define and track progress;
  • Developing and consolidating a set of concrete actions and activities that the NSS will take forward during the implementation period to achieve those results.
This stage covers three phases: 1) assessing the NSS; 2) envisioning the strategic direction of the NSS; and 3) elaborating the NSDS action plan.
An assessment of “where we stand” with official statistics will be the starting point for defining “where we want to be” in 5 to 10-years’ time. Due to their cross-cutting character, gender statistics constitute a great magnifying glass to identify capacity shortfalls across the whole NSS. Addressing challenges related to gender data in these three phases is key for a successful integration of a gender perspective in sectoral strategies   and in the NSDS overall.

The assessment of statistical capacity related to gender statistics overlaps largely with NSS-wide capacity concerns, but it can also bring new perspectives and insights that would not be visible in a generic NSS snapshot.  
The following steps will guide NSDS coordinators in choosing the right approach to assessing gender statistics in different contexts:
  • Identify tools and experts: Analysing statistical capacity of official data producers as well as sectoral stakeholders (e.g. based on administrative data produced by line ministries and agencies) may seem an overwhelming exercise. Recognising the difficulty of this process, PARIS21 and UN Women developed a Framework and Implementation Guidelines for Better Gender Statistics to guide countries in undertaking this assessment. The Framework and Guidelines explore systemic capacity bottlenecks at the level of system, organisation and individuals, and suggests step-by-step approaches to guide NSS stakeholders in improving the production, coordination and use of gender statistics. The integrated implementation guidelines provide assessment tools (e.g. questionnaires) and cover three main areas affecting gender statistic: NSS capacity, statistical outputs and user needs.  
  • Agree on the priority framework(s) for gender statistics to assess the statistical output. In many countries, gender equality policies are accompanied by indicator frameworks to measure progress. These frameworks provide a foundation to analyse demand for gender statistics. In cases where such policies or frameworks are missing, the institution in charge of assessing gender statistics will need to identify priority gender indicators in existing development plans or masterplans of line ministries. Developing a list of priority gender indicators may seem challenging to tackle in already complex NSDS-design process. But the Beijing Platform for Action, Agenda 2030, as well as continuous collaboration of international, regional and national organisations and gender equality actors, has helped to establish core sets of priority gender indicators. Some examples are presented in Table 1. These frameworks are indicative, and need to be contextualised and adapted according to development needs and national gender equality policies in each country. The SDGs provide a strong starting point that has been agreed on and prioritised by the international community to measure progress toward sustainable development and gender equality.   Besides these global and regional development commitments, national development plans (NDPs) usually already have gender-specific indicators that can be identified. Since different countries have unique priorities in addressing gender issues, data gaps and capacity bottlenecks will vary.   It is vital that strategies to address these challenges are rooted in the national context and have broad-based support among stakeholders. It is also important to consider whether to focus on the upstream causes or downstream consequences of the gaps identified, because these aspects will influence the choice of priority statistics and the methods of data collection.
Table 1. Examples of global, regional and national frameworks of gender-specific indicators and their thematic scope
Framework Geographic coverage Thematic scope (as defined in the respective framework)
Gender-specific SDG indicators   Global

Poverty, Food, Health and Wellbeing, Education, Gender Equality,  Water and Sanitation, Energy, Work and Economic Growth, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure,  Inequality,  Cities and Communities, Consumption and Production, Climate, Life below Water, Life on Land, Peace Justice and Strong Institutions, Partnerships to achieve the Goal

UN Minimum Set of Gender Indicators   Global Economic structures, participation in productive activities and access to resources, Education, Health and related services, Public life and decision-making, Human rights of women and girl children
UN Women COVID and gender indicators dashboard   Global Covid-19 Confirmed Cases and Deaths, Poverty and Social Protection, Health System Vulnerability, Gender Equality, Education Impact, Macro-Economic Impact, Labour Market Situation, Access to Water and Sanitation, Sustainable Cities, Refugee and Asylum-Seeking Populations, Connectivity and Access to Information
Core Set of Gender Indicators in Agriculture   Global Agriculture
Minimum Set of Gender Indicators for Africa   Regional Economic Structures, Participation in Productive Activities and Access to Resources, Health and related Services, Education, Human rights of women and girl child, Public life and decision-making, Environment and Climate Change
Core Set of gender indicators for Asia and the Pacific   Regional Poverty, Participation in productive activities, Participation in unremunerated productive work, Education, Health and related services, Governance and participation in public life and decision-making, Human rights of women and girls, Environment and climate change  
Latin America and the Caribbean: selected gender-sensitive indicators   Regional Demography, Sexual and Reproductive Health, Mortality, Education, Employment, Poverty, Home and family
Environment-Gender Indicator Set for Asia-Pacific   Regional Environment
Mexico System of gender indicators   National Population, fertility, mortality and migration as well as general topics such as: health, education, work, decision-making, indigenous populations, violence and use of time
Philippines Compendium of Indicators for Monitoring and Evaluation of Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment   National

Women’s Social Development Rights, Gender in Security, Justice and Peace, Governance, Climate Change, Women’s Economic Empowerment

Rwanda Key Gender Indicators and Baseline in Four Sectors National Governance, Agriculture, Infrastructure, and Private Sector
Uganda National Priority  
Gender Equality Indicators
National Economy, Education, Health, Leadership and Governance, Human Rights, Information and Communication Technology
  • Assess gender statistics in close collaboration with users. User engagement continues to be a key factor defining the success of mainstreaming gender statistics by grounding the analysis of gender data gaps in demand for gender data. Whenever possible, in-person consultations with gender statistics users (e.g. line ministries, parliamentarians, NGOs, CSOs, research, academia, private sector, and media) can be organised at the beginning and at the end of the assessment process. For example, such consultations can solicit key users’ support in the evaluation of the current state of gender statistics (for example through a SWOT exercise) or in order to present and validate the findings of the assessment report (See Box 3 for Maldives example)  . The NSO and the ministry in charge of women’s affairs can use different tools to enquire about users’ needs related to gender statistics, such as online consultations or user satisfaction surveys. If time and capacity permits, thematic meetings can also be organised on the margins of plenary sessions to obtain more detailed feedback on specific areas or challenges in gender statistics (e.g. VAW statistics, non-traditional sources of gender data, etc.). Furthermore, external users can provide valuable insights on the user-friendliness of available gender statistics to inform more effective dissemination in future.
  • Use the assessment process to bring change and propose sustainable solutions. Undertaking the NSDS design process with an assessment of gender statistics requires multi-level and multi-stakeholder interventions. The momentum and relations developed in this process can be used to drive changes in key areas, including NSS coordination. A commitment to develop a gender statistics strategy can help to create (or refocus existing) inter-agency structures and build momentum to designate gender focal points and units across the NSS. Dedicated gender units can play a catalytic role in initiating and monitoring efforts to mainstream a gender perspective in NSSs.       Moreover, ad-hoc working groups on gender statistics can be form the basis of more established coordinating bodies that meet regularly and develop a multi-year programming approach for NSDS implementation. The validation of a national Gender Statistics Assessment provides a unique entry point to create such a working group.

The vision and mission of the NSDS provides a general summary of the strategic directions of the NSS in the medium- to long-term. This forms the basis for the development of more tangible, time-bound, and measurable goals and outcomes in the form of a strategic framework, which must be developed be prioritised based on policy-driven data demand and available capacity and resources in the NSS.
The NSDS strategic goals should address relevant target areas for NSS capacity development across three levels: the individual level, the organisational level, and the systemic level. Once the NSDS coordinators have a clear picture of the gaps and challenges related to gender statistics in the NSS (as specified in the assessment report), they can identify the priority areas for improvement. The following approaches can guide users in envisioning effective gender statistics systems and how to mainstream their development across the NSDS and sectoral strategies:
  • Envision a human-rights and SDGs-based approach to data. The 2030 Agenda with its pledge to “leave no one behind” is firmly and unequivocally anchored in human rights; the SDGs are designed as goals that apply to every person everywhere rather than as a response to basic human need or charity (UN Women 2018). A human rights-based approach to implementation is based on the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of rights, which demands from countries truly integrated and systemic strategies that address the interlinkages between goals. Anchoring the data value chain in human rights and the SDGs can provide a helpful, shared vision for gender statistics in general.   This approach is based on the following key concepts and ideas in reference to gender data:
    • Data disaggregation: Disaggregation of data by sex and other characteristics allows data users to analyse and compare different sub-groups, and to understand their specific situations.
    • Self-identification: For the purposes of data collection, populations of interest should be self-defining (e.g. this can refer to sexual orientation). Individuals should have the option to disclose, or withhold, information about their personal characteristics.
    • Transparency: Enumerators and statistical authorities should provide clear, openly accessible information about data collection exercises, including the research design and data collection methodology. Data collected by NSS should be openly accessible to the public.
    • Privacy: Data disclosed to enumerators should be protected and kept private; the confidentiality of individual responses and personal information should be maintained. This is especially important, for example, when collecting information on sensitive topics or from vulnerable populations (e.g. when collecting data on gender-based violence, to protect victims from perpetrators). This has also implications for intersectional analysis: when the sample size for specific groups is too small to ensure anonymity, the data should not be published.
    • Accountability: Enumerators and statistical authorities are accountable for upholding human rights in their operations, and data should be used to hold government and other actors to account on human rights issues.
    • Participation: Participation of relevant population groups in data collection exercises, including planning, data collection, dissemination and analysis of data ensures an inclusive, holistic, and more representative picture of the population.
  • Align with planned efficiency gains for the whole NSS. The findings of the gender statistics assessment will need to inform the formulation of the NSDS. Explore how priority areas such as improved legislative frameworks, inclusion of new technology and data collection methods, or linking existing data sources can improve the state of gender statistics. Ensure that statistical governance and infrastructure development work together in the same direction to support the priorities identified in the gender statistics assessment process.
  • Seek to consistently link gender data and capacity priorities with the NSS priorities. To increase the chances of obtaining political interest and funding, gender-specific priority indicators should be well-aligned with country’s development priorities and national gender equality policies. Consultations with the ministry of women’s affairs, ministry of planning and ministry of finance (or analogous entities) should help to establish a shared understanding of these priorities. Linking gender statistics in the NSDS with priorities of the NDP can also increase the sustainability of NSDS activities. Progress towards gender equality often suffers from low prioritisation in tight government budgets. This situation can be a result of low political engagement in advancing women’s rights (and associated efforts to monitor progress), or because of limited capacity and financial resources allocated to statistical activities in general. Connecting with the government’s broader development agenda can help to overcome these barriers.
  • Adopt a gender lens throughout the whole NSDS process. It is easy to lose the gender-focus in the multitude of the NSDS sectoral consultations. The NSDS Guidelines specify that: “Sectoral and subject-matter statistics constitute a substantial part of the official statistics in a country, and serve as essential building blocks of the country’s national statistical system. As they address demand for increased granularity and hence more relevance of statistics in citizen-centered policy, they also manifest to the inclusive characteristic of the national statistical system.” Hence, applying a gender lens in the NSDS can have a positive net effect on the performance of the statistical system more broadly. The inclusion of a gender lens is to be applied in a top-down and a bottom-up way:
    • top-down: when the lead institution for the NSDS acknowledges the importance of gender statistics and can mobilise political support then a gender-sensitive approach can be applied throughout the full NSDS lifecycle. Under this model, an explicit commitment to advancing gender statistics will be an integral part of the core NSDS document and will also radiate to sectoral strategies. For example, in countries pursuing bold integration of gender statistics in the NSDS, gender-related strategies can be formulated as key “pillars” or dedicated strategic objectives in the NSDS. This format provides a visible sign of recognition of an NSS pledge to advance gender in the data space (e.g. see Box 4)  .
    • bottom-up: The NSO and NSS stakeholders can all be made aware of the importance of gender statistics and gender-sensitivity and opt to address these issues when developing statistical strategies for different areas and sectors across government. However, line ministries that do not hold an explicit mandate to advance and/or monitor women’s empowerment may not have a clear understanding of the definition and the value of gender statistics. In such cases, the commitment to sex-disaggregation may be perceived as a sufficient condition to compile gender statistics. Thus, continual training and awareness-raising on the definition and role of gender statistics is essential to foster a common understanding and ownership over limited gender data production and use. An inter-agency mechanism for gender statistics can play an important role in this regard by carrying the mandate to guide the design of gender-sensitive administrative systems and encourage quality gender analysis of sectoral statistics. These sectoral efforts and commitments should be reflected and summarised in the core NSDS document, for example in a section highlighting cross-cutting areas.
  • Develop a strategic framework and implementation plan for gender statistics. The assessment findings should help NSS stakeholders in preparing a strategic framework for gender statistics, accompanied by an implementation plan with outputs, activities and inputs. In many cases, sex-disaggregation and new survey modules on special topics will need to be added to existing data collection exercises to address prevailing gender data gaps. Section 7 presents key sources of international guidance on developing gender statistics as well as country examples.          
    • Examples of strategic objectives to advance gender statistics include:
      • Improvement of civil registration and vital statistics system in the country;
      • Making existing surveys and censuses more gender-sensitive;
      • Strengthening the engagement with gender data users;
      • Scaling up NSS communication about gender issues.
    • Examples of activities for gender statistics include:
      • Adding sex-disaggregation to the collection of administrative records on business ownership;
      • Developing a methodology to generate statistics on violence against women;
      • Conducting a pilot time-use survey;
      • Refining existing gender-specific indicators in the upcoming Demographic and Health Survey (DHS);
      • Introducing a gender equality module in the training of civil servants;
      • Developing a gender statistics communication strategy for social media.
    • Gender mainstreaming in the NSDS can take different forms depending on the level a country’s institutional capacity, political commitment of key decision makers, and/or donor support. Here are some examples of how different countries have integrated gender statistics strategies in their NSDS:
      • Conducting a Gender Assessment of the National Statistical System, including a SWOT analysis. This process laid the foundations for an NSS situation analysis specific to gender: Georgia: National Strategy for the Development of Official Statistics 2020-2023  
      • Addressing data-disaggregation and a gender dimension as part of the overall effort to improve the coverage and quality of official statistics:  The Republic of Guinea: Stratégie Nationale de Développement de la Statistique (SDNS) 2009–2013 (in French)  
      • Presenting improved gender statistics, among other areas, as a means to make statistical business processes more efficient and cost effective: Bangladesh: National Strategy for the Development of Statistics 2013-23  
      • Presenting gender statistics as a crosscutting issue in national statistical development:
        • The Republic of Guinea: Stratégie Nationale de Développement de la Statistique (SDNS) 2009–2013  (in French)  
        • Rwanda: Third National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDSIII)  
        • Rwanda: Second National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDSII)  
        • Tanzania Statistical Master Plan 2009/10- 2013/14  
      • Developing inter-agency mechanisms for gender statistics: Philippine Statistical Development Program (PSDP) 2018-2023  
      • Including gender among a set of equity principles guiding the NSDS strategic framework: Cabo Verde Estratégia Nacional de Desenvolvimento da Estatística (2012-2016) (in Portuguese).  
  • Consolidate a strategy for the development of gender statistics. It may not always be possible to fully mainstream gender statistics across the NSDS process due to the political context, limited NSO capacity, or a tight NSDS design timeline. In such cases, NSS stakeholders can develop a stand-alone strategy for the development of gender statistics (NSDGS). However, it is important to bear in mind the political, operational and financial limitations of such a solution, which may be treated as an add-on and risks being disregarded. To mitigate these challenges, efforts should be made to align and/or attach the strategy to the existing NSDS strategic framework and implementation arrangements. The NSDS midterm review process provides an important window of opportunity for such a strategy, when the goals, action plans and budgets are readjusted based on progress in implementation (See Box 5)    . However, it should be noted that limiting the gender statistics strategy to a separate stand-alone chapter can also weaken its mandate in the overall implementation of the NSDS. It is important that NSS stakeholders recognise and own their commitments reflected in the strategy and adopt a proactive approach to improve and prioritise gender statistics production and use in their own institutions to support implementation.

NSDS action plans are prepared for sectoral and/or cross-cutting areas, as well as for each of the participating ministries/agencies. The action plans include the cost of the activities (and preferably budget allocation), a risk matrix and corresponding mitigation measures. The monitoring and evaluation framework for the strategy is based on the NSDS results framework and serves as reference for monitoring implementation at the ministry/agency level.
When elaborating action plans for gender statistics, it is important to remain aware of the potential scope for mainstreaming gender in statistical activities. This means considering, for example:
  • Achieving comprehensive coverage of gender issues in data production and dissemination;
  • Incorporating a gender perspective into the design of surveys or censuses by taking gender issues into account and avoiding gender biases in measurement;
  • Improving data analysis and data dissemination to deliver gender statistics in a format that is easy to access and use by policymakers, planners and other users;
  • Training both the NSS staff and users on different aspects of the data value chain for gender statistics;
  • Preparing a risk mitigation strategy in case domestic funding cannot sustain a regular production of gender statistics. Financing needs for gender statistics will vary according to frequency and scope of the statistical instrument:
    • Harmonised surveys such as HIES  , LSMS  , DHS  , and MICS   are ideally conducted every few years.
    • Labour force surveys (LFS  ) should be conducted more regularly (e.g. quarterly or annually).
    • Data from administrative sources are, in most cases, produced annually. However, maintaining robust administrative systems is a continuous process.
Thus, overall strategic goals for gender statistics should be accompanied by coherent, concrete actions for implementation -- including costing scenarios, as well as a risk assessment, in line with the overall NSDS Guidelines.
In this step, the NSDS coordinators develop a financing strategy by engaging with the ministry of finance or budget. As gender data often suffer from low prioritisation, it is important to integrate a financing plan as part of the NSDS action plan, if possible, by estimating the cost of closing gender data gaps.
A framework for resource mobilisation should outline sustainable mechanisms and structures to engage with domestic and international development partners, including public-private partnerships, for example. Concrete estimates of the resources required to achieve the goals related to gender statistics will provide a platform for the government to effectively mobilise funding. The costing exercise should be as detailed as possible and allow to distinguish gender-specific activities   Funding priority should be given to system-wide solutions that are grounded in policy-driven demand for gender data, and to disaggregation on a range of dimensions, including sex, age, migratory status, and geography, to enable intersectional analysis.
Embedding the business case for gender statistics as a means to improve NSS-wide capacity is a smart strategy in the financing plan. Global advocates of gender statistics, such as UN Women or Data2X, regional institutions, and development banks can provide inspiring facts and figures that can guide development of national advocacy materials and messaging.    

The NSDS deployment stage sets the programs and activities in motion to achieve the strategic goals (outcomes) and key outputs outlined in the strategic framework. It consists of two (continuous) phases: 1) implementing and monitoring, and 2) evaluating.

The implementing and monitoring phase of the NSDS deployment stage starts with the dissemination of the NSDS document. The NSO, in collaboration with the ministry in charge of advancing gender equality, can take the following actions to ensure the gender statistics strategy is a visible element of the new NSDS:
  • Ensure that the overall NSDS communication plan is designed using a gender-sensitive lens, with an aim to disseminate key messages about the role of gender statistics in the NSDS.
    • Provide clear explanations how this relates to a better understanding of the intersectional diversity of the population.
    • Develop a simple and concise messaging around the value of NSDS and gender statistics to improve evidence-based policymaking.
  • Make sure outreach materials and content on NSDS implementation connect to key issues and agendas for national and international development, including gender equality and intersectionality.
  • Develop the capacity of NSO, ministries and media to use gender statistics in their communications content. Special trainings and workshops can be offered to develop capacity in the following areas:
    • Ensuring publications, press releases, exclusive interviews are gender responsive;
    • Adapting the communication to make language more gender sensitive and limit technical details to ensure information about the NSDS is accessible to key, non-technical audiences – including gender equality advocates;
    • Include gender issues in media conferences, media reporting as well as radio and TV talk shows.
  • Engage with (or establish) mechanisms to coordinate the implementation of gender statistics strategy, such as a thematic working group, if not put in place at earlier stages of the NSDS design process.
  • Engage with advocates of gender equality to inform them about the NSDS publication to get their support for implementation and monitoring.
Following NSDS dissemination, resources are mobilised and action plans are carried out by the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the NSS. Implementation and results should be monitored routinely to inform changes or updates in strategy, prioritisation, actions, or inputs, if necessary.

Evaluations of the NSDS – both mid-term and final – represent important opportunities to advance gender mainstreaming in the NSS. As noted previously, a mid-term review provides an entry-point to introduce a standalone gender statistics strategy or other gender-related objectives and actions in NSDS implementation. The final NSDS evaluation, on the other hand, provides an opportunity to reflect on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and to some extent, the impact of the envisaged strategic outcomes for gender statistics.
Measuring impact may prove challenging, however, as it will take a reasonable span of time to realise and manifest most of the desired long-term changes and benefits for the NSS in gender statistics. During this time, the NSO and the ministry in charge of advancing gender equality can capitalise on the inter-agency mechanisms (including gender statistics users and advocates) to guide a monitoring and evaluation process to capture lessons and insights.
As the NSDS follows a circular lifecycle, the evaluation of the existing NSDS impact on gender statistics can provide the basis for their improvement during the mid-term review. Likewise, the evaluation of gender statistics at the close of NSDS implementation will provide a foundation for new strategies in the subsequent NSDS design, providing a framework to sustain progress in gender statistics going forward.


The following table summarises key actions to mainstream gender in the NSDS lifecycle, presented alongside anticipated benefits and challenges based on country experiences.
Actions Benefits Challenges
Securing a commitment to disaggregate data by sex
  • Disaggregating data by sex and other characteristics increases the granularity, volume and depth of insights that can be presented to policymakers. It has the potential of improving the overall quality of data (in terms of coverage), the efficiency of government programming, and the relatability of data to all citizens.
  • Adding sex-disaggregation to existing data collection, be it survey or administrative records, may require additional funds and changes in the way data is collected (e.g. moving from household level to individual level to obtain disparities  for instance entails a lot of changes in questionnaire design and indicators).    
  • Sex-disaggregation alone will not assure that the data are properly analysed in a gender-sensitive manner.
  • Ministries often do not necessarily employ statisticians or individuals who feel comfortable with data and statistics. This may require collaboration with NSOs, who in some regions may very short staffed.


Expanding data collection efforts on priority topics (e.g. through a user-producer dialogue) and improving survey methodology

  • Improved  relevance, quality and also relatability of gender statistics
  • If performed through a user-producer dialogue, can improve relations with users and support their ownership of the initiative
  • Some priority topics, like time-use survey will require putting in place of new data collection instruments. The improvement of survey methodology may require additional training
  • Not all government institutions feel comfortable about engaging in discussions with non-governmental users and expanding the number of priority areas beyond government planning
Applying a gender lens to existing data collection
  • As above, more insights and opportunities to identify vulnerable populations that require immediate state intervention.
  • Regular training on gender-sensitive data analysis is necessary, which is often not standard in capacity development programming.
  • Identifying opportunities to mainstream gender across statistical work and organisational practices.
Convening a meeting on crosscutting themes during the design of sectoral NSDS strategies
  • Such meetings provide additional opportunities to uncover underlying coordination and data-exchange issues in the NSS that hamper the supply of high-quality gender statistics.
  • A dedicated awareness-raising session on gender statistics might be necessary for the non-NSO government data producers.
  • Discussions around coordination and/or data-sharing arrangements may require establishing or revising the statistics law.
Incorporation of gender equality objectives within the government’s statistical planning processes
  • If well aligned with government’s priorities, this can provide a robust motivation and framework for financing gender statistics.
  • The crosscutting nature of gender statistics allows to identify NSS-wide bottlenecks for improving statistics production, dissemination and use.
  • Gender statistics priorities have to compete with other development priorities for the limited attention of policymakers.
  • The government may not have a clear political strategy in place when a new NSDS is being designed. Distilling the gender equality agenda from sectoral policies and masterplans may require expert knowledge and will take time.
  • Where an NSDS is being designed (or currently in place), gender statistics planning should be intentionally aligned to support buy-in. A stand-alone gender-specific strategy can be developed independently in cases where an NSDS is not in place, but it should be strongly motivated by other government planning frameworks, such as a National Development Plan and/or Gender Equality Policy.
  • The inclusion of gender statistics across the NSDS does not guarantee funding; many NSDSs fail to be implemented.  
Communicating about planned and accomplished gender statistics strategies
  • Building trust with stakeholders and the public through transparency and accountability.
  • Can serve as means of introducing new products and channels of communication as well as connecting with new audiences (users).
  • Useful to mobilise national and external funds for statistics.
  • Gender issues have so far had limited uptake in national policy narratives, especially in contexts where traditional social institutions and beliefs underpin the prevailing policy landscape.
  • A meaningful and far-reaching information campaign about what NSDS means for advancing gender equality requires a prior preparation of a communication plan and materials.
  • The technical character of the NSDS may present a barrier for uptake by media or gender equality advocates that have low data literacy skills.
Increasing dialogue and collaboration with civil society organisations or the private sector in the NSDS process
  • Obtaining additional feedback from key users on data production and dissemination.
  • Possibility to fill in some of the data gaps using alternative data sources.
  • A clearly defined value-case for a stronger user-engagement needs to be developed by the institution in charge of NSDS preparation.
  • Data protection and confidentiality protocols should be in place.


This section summarises basic questions and answers that can help institutions to understand their role in the NSDS process and take steps to address gender issues in the NSDS lifecycle.

Who is the key partner that could support the NSO in adding a gender perspective to the data?
  • Ministries focused on advancing women’s empowerment, such as ministries of women, ministries of family or ministries of gender are key strategic allies; they hold knowledge of gender issues and capacity to support gender statistics-related causes among many government priorities.
In addition, there are other relevant institutions and groups, which have advancing gender equality and supporting women’s causes on their agenda. These may include, for example:
  • Other line ministries;
  • Gender equality institutes or non-governmental organisations promoting women’s empowerment;
  • Civil society organisations;
  • International organisations, including UN Women, regional UN agencies, regional and global development banks;
  • Development partner organisations;
  • Research centres and academic instituions;
  • Influencers and advocates.

To mainstream gender across our statistics, can’t the NSO simply add sex-disaggregation to existing data collection?
Sex-disaggregated data refers to data that is collected and broken down separately for women and men. Gender statistics go further as they take into account wider gender inequalities and gender bias in data collection methods and tools  . Gender statistics have the potential to reflect different groups of women and men, taking into consideration that gender intersects with “age, education, family composition and parenthood, country of birth and disability”,  as well as other factors, such as income. This means that gender statistics can provide a deeper understanding of women’s situations and needs, and thereby support the analysis of intersecting inequalities, or intersectionality  . For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, working mothers were more likely to provide unpaid care needed at home, which affected their careers.  
Building a meaningful and relevant dataset of gender statistics will not be achieved by simply adding a sex-disaggregation to existing data collection. Nevertheless, ensuring a consistent inclusion of sex- disaggregation across official statistics is an important achievement and provides the foundation for further improvements, such as the inclusion of gender specific issues/indicators or survey modules.

Which part of the NSDS should contain the reference to gender statistics?
As a crosscutting issue in official statistics, gender issues should, ideally, be reflected across the document and in addition be underlined in a dedicated chapter or pillar. This format will ensure visibility and a prominent positioning in the main NSDS document, which is also a synthesis document for sectoral strategies. A good practice is to include the pledge to strengthen gender statistics as a strategic pillar (see Box 4 on Senegal) or strategic axis of the NSDS. In case this is not possible, countries may also opt to include a dedicated chapter for gender statistics. Another solution is to develop a stand-alone gender statistics strategy that is aligned with the NSDS strategic framework. The inconvenience of this solution is the need for additional advocacy from the national women’s machineries and funds for successful implementation. See section 4.2.2 for further guidance.

The NSDS process is already quite advanced. Can we still develop a gender statistics strategy?
While PARIS21 and UN Women recommend full gender data mainstreaming in the NSDS lifecycle, there are additional entry-points to leverage opportunities to address gender data gaps. Stakeholders can decide to develop a stand-alone gender statistics strategy in line with the strategic objectives of an existing NSDS and national development priorities or add gender in the mid-term review of the existing NSDS. See point e) in section 4.2.2.