Ministers Discuss Gender Inequality in Data

Inter-ministerial officials gathered in Phnom Penh Wednesday to kick off the nation’s first effort to engender national statistics as a basis for gender-responsive policy analysis and advocacy, Min­is­try of Women’s Affairs officials said.

“Our efforts are needed to identify specific gender issues that affect women and men differently,” said Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua.

National statistics should be broken into male and female categories to determine what issues are of greater relevance to men and women, Mu Sochua said, citing domestic violence and sex in general as greater concerns for women. The same subjects often are not issues of importance for the involved male parties, she said.

“The national statistical system in any country is the very foundation of national policy-making,” said Ministry of Women’s Affairs Secretary of State Ing Kantha Phavi. “It is important, therefore, that it should be as comprehensive and unbiased as possible.”

It is a misconception, she said, that people collecting the numbers, percentages and ratios needed to calculate national statistics are always neutral.

Any system that does not break down data by sex is not doing a thorough job, Ing Kantha Phavi said.

“Any system which does not seek to collect data on women and from women is not objective, and any system which does not include women in reference groups, as enumerators and as analysts, is not neutral,” she said.

Cambodia’s national data collections are far from comprehensive, she said, adding that citizens cannot continue to assume that what is true for men is true for women. Ing Kantha Phavi called for measures to ensure that data gathered through field experience is supported by statistics.

“Only with truly comprehensive data sets can we advocate for policies and programs which serve all our population, women and men alike,” she said.

More than 50 ministerial technical officers are attending the conference, which ends on Friday.

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