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In recent years, it has been universally agreed at international meetings that gender and gender issues are of major importance, and governments have been urged to put these issues on to their agendas. At the same time, the growing importance of gender issues in development policy-making and planning emphasizes the essential need for better statistics in this domain. Gender considerations call for clear identification of men's and women's specific situations and a quantification of their economic and social contributions, especially in the agricultural sector. Partly in response to these concerns, FAO's Women and Population and Statistics Divisions decided to prepare this document in the context of the programme for the World Census of Agriculture 2000.

Both women and small agricultural production units make a vital contribution to the societies and economies of developing countries. The agricultural censuses have traditionally underestimated women's contribution to development and omitted small-scale production units. Understandably, therefore, the statistical picture fails to mirror the reality of the agricultural sector, and the statistics are not reliable. The objective of this paper is to provide methodological guidelines to narrow the statistical gap as much as possible, avoiding the omission of women's contributions. It also proposes an innovative statistical process to highlight the contribution of small farms and small farm households.

The paper may be useful in the planning of training courses and workshops for statistics producers and to meet the growing demand for gender-sensitive statistics. It may also be helpful for workshops for statisticians and users, providing them with a shared conceptual basis. Users of all types, even those from unrelated sectors, will gain an understanding of the complexity of the statistical process, and perhaps learn to express their own needs better.

Gender-specific statistics represent a new field of research that far outstrips the simple breakdown of data by sex. Involving various stages of production, it is based on concepts and definitions which mirror the full diversity of gender differentiation in society, as well as gender interaction. The design stage is complemented by the utilization of data collection, processing and dissemination methods that have effectively neutralize the underlying stereotyping and cultural factors that promote gender bias and foster erroneous policies.

Chapter One deals with the issues raised by the linkage between gender considerations and statistics. Chapter Two discusses the concept of gender for statistics producers, stressing the importance of gender-sensitive statistics for policies targeting sustainable development and social equity. Chapter Three reviews concepts and definitions specific to agricultural statistics. Chapters Two and Three both highlight the more common discriminatory biases about farm women and small farms, and how to overcome them in future. Chapter Four suggests methodological guidelines designed to allow a fresh look at the concepts and definitions used in agricultural censuses in the light of gender issues. The annexes provide exercises applicable to training courses and workshops, which test responsiveness to elements discussed in this paper. Some case studies illustrating improvements over the usual statistical procedures are also presented.

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