Gender indicators are a useful tool in monitoring gender differences, gender-related changes over time and progress towards gender equality goals. In general, indicators are statistics with a reference point (a norm or a benchmark), against which value judgments can be made. Indicators have a normative nature, in the sense that a change from the reference point in a particular direction can be interpreted as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. In the case of gender statistics, the status of women in a particular country is usually evaluated by reference to (comparison with) the situation of men in that country. In a few cases – such as for maternal mortality or access to antenatal services − the norm is the situation of women in other countries. Besides quantitative indicators (based on statistics broken down by sex), there may be qualitative indicators (based on women’s and men’s experiences, attitudes, opinions and feelings). Gender-sensitive indicators allow for the measurement of changes in the relations between women and men in a certain policy area, programme or activity, as well as changes in the status or situation of women and men.
(1) United Nations Statistics Division – UNSD. Global Gender Statistics Programme. Available at: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/genderstatmanual/Glossary.ashx; (2) EIGE and independent experts.