Gender and Health Data and Statistics: An Annotated Resource Guide

September 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

Warning: this post may seem to be exclusively for mild data-heads and public health professionals, but it’s not. It’s here to highlight and help us understand the importance of accurate, disaggregated (i.e. more individualized) data for public health and social problem interventions. Although data-heads and public health professionals may particularly benefit from access to reports such as the one highlighted here, we all benefit from their existence. As the world expands and complexities exacerbate, disaggregated data  is essential for creating and adapting successful interventions–whether those be health programs, emergency-response protocols or child care facilities. And even more importantly, it is essential that we have measures (e.g. surveys) that provide us with accurate disaggregated data.

Think about it: if someone were creating a solution to a problem you had, wouldn’t you want them to have a correct understanding of what that problem was? And not only what it was, but how it manifested for you personally, as opposed to someone very different than you (e.g. your depression came out of nowhere, while someone else’s is clearly connected to the death of a loved one). This is where disaggregated data can help.

As the report website  indicates, ‘The minimum requirement for a gender-based analysis is the availability of sex disaggregated health data. These data are collected in surveys and some routine health systems… However, many routine systems do not collect sex disaggregated data, or when they are collected, they are not analyzed and reported.In other words, we often have data about a health problem, but we can’t tell if or how that problem effects men and women differently–either because we can’t break the data into ‘male’ and ‘female,’ or because the ‘male’ and ‘female’ data were not reported.  “Even when these data are available, there is a lack of guidance and tools pertaining to conducting gender-based analysis….The success of health advocates, policy-makers and other stakeholders attempting to reduce gender-based health inequities depends on ready access to quality gender-related health information.

In simple words, the need for gender-related and gender-specific health data cannot be underestimated in regard to global health and (fundamentally) human rights. This annotated compilation of past surveys and indicators (the report above) by MEASURE Evaluation is a strong foundation from which to build as we move forward. Eventually, we will have more and better measures with which to inform our interventions and impact assessments (i.e. with which to create solutions and test whether they are working).

For data-heads: I can’t say that I found the search terms of this quasi-systematic review sufficiently thorough, but it does seem that they’ve searched the most highly relevant databases and websites. I will certainly use this report in my future research.



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