Category Archives: Gender

08 Mar 2019

International Women’s Day 2019

© 2016 Kato James, Courtesy of Photoshare

The DHS Program is now in its 35th year with a long history of helping to collect, analyze, and disseminate data on women’s empowerment, gender equality, men’s engagement, and gender-based violence within the context of health and development. Historically, The DHS Program has integrated attention to gender in all its activities and aspects of its operations, from the types of data collected and disaggregated and analyses conducted, and the “how” and the “who” of data collection, capacity strengthening, dissemination, and use.

Over the coming five years, The DHS Program will continue its cross-cutting approach to gender integration into its work and surveys. In particular, The Program will endeavor to help achieve the agency-wide commitments mandated by USAID’s Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. The DHS Program supports USAID’s objectives and has adopted an updated Gender Integration Strategy with the following priorities:

  1. Continued collection of high-quality data for gender indicators and sex disaggregation: The project will continue to contribute to evidence-based, gender-integrated health programming by providing the data necessary for understanding gender disparities related to health, including disparities in wealth, access to resources, and decision making power. Similarly, it will continue to collect data on domestic violence; early marriage and skewed sex ratio; household headship; women’s relative earnings and control of their earnings; women’s ownership of a house, of land of a bank account, and of a mobile phone; as well as female genital cutting and fistula.

    The DHS Program will monitor and respond to emerging needs for gender data important for women’s health and demographic behavior. The DHS Program is soliciting public feedback through March 15, 2019, on potential new areas/indicators/questions, including on the measurement of gender equality, male engagement, women’s empowerment, decision making, and domestic violence. This feedback will help identify some of the current gender-related data gaps.

  2. Increased focus of dissemination efforts to highlight gender disparities in health and resource and opportunity access: Data collected on gender and women’s empowerment are widely disseminated using digital, print, and other means. Most indicators are readily available on the STATcompiler, The DHS Program’s Mobile App, and the DHS API. The DHS Program website also maintains a “Gender” topic page, which provides a one-stop shop for gender indicators from DHS surveys.
  3. Enabling gender equality in access to opportunities, capabilities, learning, and resources: The DHS Program will continue its efforts to ensure that there is no discrimination by sex, pregnancy status, sexual orientation, or gender identity in access to opportunities for training, employment, and learning all along the survey continuum.
  4. By maintaining confidentiality and gender-sensitive protections. The DHS Program has strict ethical guidelines to protect respondents and interviewers and ensure confidentiality of respondents, their families, and of the data. While these guidelines apply to all respondents, they also specifically recognize the need for special protections for women in certain circumstances.
  5. By exploring technologies to ask highly sensitive questions: Several of the questions asked in DHS surveys are highly sensitive. While some of these sensitive questions are asked of both women and men, such as number of sexual partners, some others are mainly asked of women, including questions on experience of sexual violence. Improving the validity of responses to these questions remains a challenge for any survey program, and it is important to look for ways to both improve reporting and also provide respondents with a more secure platform to disclose sensitive information, such as audio computer assisted self-interviewing (ACASI).
  6. By continuing to integrate gender into the research agenda: The DHS Program’s research agenda continues to include innovative studies that shed light on the linkages between gender and health. The DHS Program will undertake many new research projects that will contribute to a better understanding of the level and changes in women’s empowerment and the interface between gender and health outcomes as well as gender disparities in health, while also applying a gender lens to analyses that do not directly involve gender indicators. In the meantime, read the latest gender analytical publications.

For International Women’s Day 2019, The DHS Program invites you to explore the wealth of gender-related resources and publications available at dhsprogram.com. Learn more about Sustainable Development Goal #5, Gender Equality indicators available in DHS surveys in the infographic below.

03 Dec 2018

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence

We are halfway through the 16 days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, but there is still time to get involved. The DHS Program has a variety of resources to help you learn about the prevalence of violence against women around the world.

Since 2000, The DHS Program has collected domestic violence data in more than 50 countries. Explore the domestic violence results in five recently released Demographic and Health Surveys from the Philippines, Senegal, Haiti, Timor-Leste, and Uganda in a new infographic developed for this year’s 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

Share our infographic using the links below.  

Share the #16days infographic on Facebook

Tweet the #16days infographic

Additionally, try our easy-to-use mini tool to compare indicators of gender inequality, women’s empowerment, gender norms, and more. For even more domestic violence data, you can visualize these indicators by background characteristics, over time, and across countries using STATcompiler

Photo Credit: © 2004 Syed Ziaul Habib Roobon, Courtesy of Photoshare

 

08 Mar 2018

International Women’s Day through the lens of the India National Family Health Survey

For over 20 years, The DHS Program has collected information related to women’s empowerment, experience of spousal violence, women’s participation in decision making, and, more recently, women’s access to money and credit.

International Women’s Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the progress women have made based on one of our most highly anticipated surveys. The 2015-16 India National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) comes 10 years after the previous 2005-06 India NFHS-3. Since then, early marriage (before the legal age) has become less common, more married women age 15-49 are participating in all 3 household decisions, and fewer men agree that wife beating is justified. Fertility is also approaching replacement level with women in India having an average of 2.2 children, down from 2.7 children per woman in 2005-06.

But there is still room for improvement. Less than one-third (31%) of married women age 15-49 in India are employed compared with 98% of men. 1 in 4 ever-married women have experienced spousal violence in the past 12 months and this proportion has remained unchanged in the last decade. Only 14% of women who have ever experienced violence have sought help to end the violence.

And for the first time, NFHS-4 provides district-level estimates for most indicators. Discover more in the 2005-16 NFHS-4 State Reports.

You can still get involved on International Women’s Day by sharing this infographic on women’s empowerment in India on Facebook. Compare other women’s empowerment indicators across over 90 countries using this easy-to-use mini-tool and even more on STATcompiler.

Download the 2015-16 India National Family Health Survey dataset here.

Photo Credit: © 2014 Prasanta Biswas, Courtesy of Photoshare

08 Mar 2016

On International Women’s Day: A Pledge for Accountability

International Women’s Day, March 8, never fails to give me pause: while it provides a time and space to celebrate women’s achievements and evaluate progress toward attaining gender equality, it also makes me wonder when we – all of humanity – will no longer need to set aside a special day to focus attention on fully half of humanity. It is disappointing that despite the nearly half century since the publication of Ester Boserup’s 1970 game changing Women’s Role in Economic Development which documented women’s critical and largely ignored role in agriculture, we are still only “pledging for parity” and are nowhere near achieving it.  Boserup’s work showed that in many economies women did half or more of agricultural work while also contributing significantly to trade.

Spousal Violence and HIV: Exploring the linkages in five sub-Saharan African countries

For me, Boserup’s work has special meaning. Not only did her insights change the way I looked at women’s role in development, but also because 22 years ago it indirectly gave rise to my very first job in the United States. In 1993, I joined DHS as its first and only Women-in-Development Analyst. The job title sounds archaic now, but back then the change from a focus on women’s roles in development to the role of gender in providing the context and constraints for women’s full participation in development was just beginning. By the end of the 1990s, the shift from WID to GAD (Gender and Development) was complete and my title eventually reflected this change.

…for us at The DHS Program, the 2016 International Women’s Day call of ‘Pledge for Parity’ translates into a pledge to continue providing the highest quality data and analysis to hold the world accountable for the continuing gap in the achievement of gender equality.

Women's Lives and Challenges: Equality and Empowerment since 2000

As the newly minted DHS WID analyst, I was asked to develop a module of survey questions that could be included in a DHS and would provide information on gender relations in the household and the context of women’s lives. At that time, almost 10 years after the DHS project was initiated, the DHS woman’s questionnaire, designed primarily to measure key demographic and health indicators, had almost no information on women’s status. The only information related to women’s status was education, age at first marriage, and employment. Thus in developing a women’s status module, I had a pretty clean slate to work with. The module that was finally developed and piloted as part of the 1995 Egypt DHS covered many aspects of women’s status including household decision making, dowry payments, attitudes towards women’s roles and spousal violence, ownership and control of assets, freedom of movement, financial autonomy, and exposure to violence. Though never fielded again in its initial form, the module became the basis of DHS’s ongoing contributions to understanding the role of gender and women’s empowerment in the achievement of demographic and health goals.

Men and Contraception: Trends in Attitudes and Use

Today The DHS Program continues its 20+ year tradition of providing reliable and consistent data on women’s roles in the household, violence against women, and female genital cutting. The power of these data comes not only from the information they provide on women’s lives, but also from the fact that these data are collected alongside demographic, health and nutrition data for the same women. This holistic approach enables The DHS Program to go beyond just providing gender indicators to the world, to providing in-depth analyses that help highlight women’s contributions, constraints and gender inequities in the context of demographic change, health, and social and economic development. Thus for us at The DHS Program, the 2016 International Women’s Day call of “Pledge for Parity” translates into a pledge to continue providing the highest quality data and analysis to hold the world accountable for the continuing gap in the achievement of gender equality.

 

10 Dec 2014

Gender in the Demographic & Health Surveys: Past, Present, & Future

This post is part of a series commemorating 30 years of The DHS Program.

When I first started at The DHS Program in late 1993 as a Women-in-Development Specialist, the survey questionnaires contained few questions that could shed light on the impact of gender on demographic behavior and health. While the questionnaires were designed to collect all kinds of information on women’s and children’s health, women’s use of contraception, fertility, mortality and nutrition, there was virtually no information on the status of the women themselves other than information on their education and employment. In other words, there was little information that provided insights into the gendered context within which the health and demographic behavior of women and households was being determined.

1995 Egypt DHS

1995 Egypt DHS

So I had a lot of work to do. My challenge was to develop a parsimonious module of questions that in the future could potentially be used by DHS surveys across the world to better understand the role that gender plays in demographic and health outcomes. To this end I put together a set of questions on women’s status based on a thorough literature review and an examination of several studies that used questionnaires to measure women’s status and gender relations in the household. Once ready we managed to include this module of questions in the 1995 Egypt DHS. Preparing the module was challenging since the literature provided mostly proxy indicators of women’s status at the household level, but few that could directly measure empowerment. Additionally, since one of the key features of The DHS Program is that it provides comparable data across countries, I needed questions that had similar meaning across cultures with widely varying perceptions of women’s roles. The pilot of the Women’s Status Module in the Egypt DHS yielded a lot of useful information and helped determine the key indicators that would be useful to have for most countries such as the questions on women’s role in household decision making, their attitudes towards spousal violence, and barriers to accessing health care for themselves.

1998 Nicaragua DHS

1998 Nicaragua DHS

Another gender-related topic that really increased in importance during my tenure as the Senior Gender Advisor to The DHS Program is domestic violence. The women’s status module implemented in Egypt contained only a couple of questions on women’s experience of domestic violence and the 1990 and the 1995 Colombia DHS surveys included country-specific questions on domestic violence. Then in 1998, a module of questions that utilized a modified conflict tactics scale approach (Strauss 1990) to the measurement of violence was implemented in the Nicaragua DHS. It was this module that became the foundation for the core DHS Domestic Violence Module which was finalized and piloted around 2000. Overtime we also developed a protocol for the ethical collection of data on violence, particularly for the protection of female respondents and field interviewers. However, having a standardized module and protocols for its implementation, did not mean that countries were immediately interested in collecting information on domestic violence. There was first a need to try and overcome commonly held beliefs that domestic violence was not a State concern and had no place in a demographic and health survey. Additionally few believed that women would be willing to talk about their experiences of violence.

The 1995 Egypt DHS marked a new chapter in the life of The DHS Program. Questions on women’s empowerment are now part of the core questionnaire and asked in most countries. The Domestic Violence Module has been included in more than 95 surveys in over 50 countries. Survey data have been used for major legislation, advocacy efforts, and national programs to protect women in their own homes in countries as diverse as Moldova, Uganda, Timor Leste, and Zimbabwe. Analysis of DHS data has convincingly linked violence with negative reproductive health outcomes and HIV, showing that violence is an important public health issue as well as a violation of individual rights.

In the coming years, The DHS Program will continue to collect more information on women’s empowerment. The 2014 revised survey instruments now include questions on women’s ownership of mobile phones, personal bank accounts, and ownership and co-ownership of property. We have come a long way since the first pilot module on women’s status, and we will continue to be on the forefront of research into women’s lives.

Reference

Straus, M.A. 1990. Measuring intrafamily conflict and violence: the conflict tactic (CT) scales. In M.A. Straus and R.J. Gelles (eds.) Physical Violence in American families: Risk Factors and Adaptations to Violence in 8,145 Families. 29-47. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

07 Mar 2014

Women’s Lives and Challenges

The Women’s Lives and Challenges: Empowerment and Equality since 2000 report assesses progress made toward gender equality and women’s empowerment since the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were adopted in 2000. It summarizes findings from 95 surveys conducted by DHS in 47 countries from 2000 to 2011. Data on trends are available for 33 countries that hosted 2 or more surveys in this time period.

Together these data give us an accurate picture of #WomensLives. They describe the current status of women around the world and show how much change, for better or worse, has occurred since 2000. While there have been improvements in some areas, overall progress towards women’s empowerment and gender equality is halting and inconsistent. Women worldwide continue to face special challenges throughout their lives, even though some countries—for example, Cambodia, Nepal, and Rwanda—have made great strides toward gender equality.

Resources for empowerment are distributed unequally between women and men, but women have made gains in education, employment, health care, and family life.

  • Access to primary education is expanding worldwide; in Cambodia and Nepal, which have made the greatest progress, the proportion of young women with primary education has more than doubled since 2000. Yet there are still 16 countries where less than half of women age 15-24 have finished primary school. More men than women can read and have completed primary school in nearly every country.
  • Over half of women are employed in 33 of 45 countries, but men are not only more likely to be employed than women, but also more likely to be paid in cash for the work they do.
  • At least half of births take place in health facilities in the majority of countries, and the proportion is also rising in most countries. Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal, and Rwanda have experienced the greatest improvements across all maternal health indicators. Yet more than half of women still face barriers to accessing health care in most countries.
  • Teenage pregnancy has declined modestly in many countries. In 36 of 47 countries, less than 25% of women begin childbearing before age 20. Yet child marriage— that is, marriage before age 18—persists in many countries. More than 40% of women marry before age 18 in 16 of 47 countries surveyed, including 3 countries where more than 60% of women marry before age 18: Bangladesh, Guinea, and Mali.

Women’s control over their own lives shows some encouraging trends, but substantial gender gaps remain.

  • Women generally do not play a major role in household decision making although participation levels have been rising, notably in Armenia, Kenya, Lesotho, and Nepal. Only in 12 of 43 countries do more than two-thirds of women participate in household decision making.
  • At least 90% of married employed women have a say in how their own cash earnings are used in 29 of 44 countries. Far fewer women have a say in how their husbands’ earnings are used.
  • Less than half of currently married women use modern contraception in 37 of 46 countries. Since 2000, modern contraceptive use has plateaued or increased modestly in most countries. Rwanda is an exception, with an increase of 40 percentage points in 10 years.
  • More than one-quarter of recent births are unplanned in 26 of 46 countries. Change has been minimal, except in Burkina Faso and Cambodia.

Violence in women’s lives remains disturbingly common, and progress has been limited. 

  • More than one-third of married women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of an intimate partner in 14 countries. While levels of violence have fallen in some countries, they have risen in others.
  • Female genital cutting remains a problem for many women in Africa. In 6 of 14 countries, more than 60% of women were cut. Data on trends in eight countries show only modest declines.
  • Most women who experience violence do not seek help, and there has been little change since 2000. Colombia has the highest rate of help-seeking while Cambodia has made the greatest progress.

Check out our three infographics and other photos from the report on our #WomensLives Pinterest Board.

 

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