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November 2003

Announcement of a publication

Filling the data gap

Gender-sensitive statistics for agricultural development

The end of the second millennium has been strongly influenced by the "era of communication", which has increased the speed and range of information as a result of more powerful communication technologies. Information is becoming the basis of development and its absence or insufficient flow may in turn become a new dimension of poverty. In developing countries, rural areas remain outside the mainstream information channels, and the central government authorities therefore have insufficient knowledge of their conditions.

For two decades, the questions surrounding the recognition of women's roles in economic and social development and of equality between men and women have fostered increasing interest among members of civil society, international organizations and governments.

FAO has participated actively in the international effort to document, develop and disseminate information and data about the roles and responsibilities of rural women in the fields of agricultural production, food security and rural development. FAO's Plan of Action for Women in Development (1996-2001) (C/95/14-Sup. 1, Rev. 1) and the Progress Report on its implementation (C/97/INF/18) stress that, in order to make informed decisions, it is essential to have statistics disaggregated by sex,2 together with information and precise data on the roles and responsibilities of men and women and their respective constraints and needs as they strive to reach their full potential.

During the last 20 years, information on rural women has increased significantly, but its validity and relevance are still questioned, as is its usefulness in decision-making and planning. This stems partly from the fact that the information is often not sufficiently substantiated by reliable statistics. Notorious deficiencies and shortcomings of gender data include the absence of reliable sources, a lack of precision, and weakness of analysis. Quite often, these statistics are too limited in scope and coverage, and do not allow for generalization.

The main purpose of this publication is to sensitize policy-makers to the benefits that sex-disaggregated information can bring to policy-making, and - as the main recipients and seekers of such information - move them to action at the national level. In this capacity, policy-makers possess the ability to influence actively both the production and the quality of information.

(Also available in Arabic, French and Spanish)

Click here to see the publication (html format).

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