GENDER-DISAGGREGATED DATA ON WATER AND
The prevailing emphasis on demonstrating national progress in WATSAN sectors against global “targets” (such as MDG goals) often works against real progress in this sector. Governments may be encouraged to inflate reports of progress, or may reduce “progress” to simple quantitative measures.
Because of the conceptual framework of WATSAN as a technical rather than social field, there is an erroneous, although widespread, perception that qualitative data are less serious, less reliable, anecdotal or ad hoc.
It is a challenge to integrate qualitative and quantitative data, but techniques to do so have already been developed and are proving their value. For example, ranked-qualitative scales can be developed to assess the quality and nature of women’s participation in decision- making (rather than simply looking at the “yes/no” presence of women in such a group); similarly, ranked scales can assess the nature and hygiene of sanitation facilities, rather than a focus simply on the presence of a facility. Gender scholars are at the forefront of developing such techniques.
Because qualitative data are likely to foreground nuance and complexity (rather than simple yes/ no data), policy makers and decision leaders often have a hard time knowing how to deploy it. Qualitative data can guide decision-making, but it typically needs to be translated into short components to perform this function. Policy makers are often ill-equipped to make this translation.
The logistics of collecting gender data are challenging, but perhaps not more so than collecting any data. There are constraints of survey methodology: questions cannot be too long or complex, and cannot make surveys as a whole too long or complex or cumbersome. However, in terms of gender information, the realities of data collection need particular scrutiny, including the gendered dynamics of interviewers and interviewees.
5 | Data collection needs: gender-disaggregated indicators currently unrepresented or under-represented
The meeting devoted a session to identifying specific information about gender and water/ sanitation in need of more attention, emphasis, and that should be incorporated into data collection activities. The expert group generated a list of minimal “need to know” information for which gender disaggregated data is currently mostly absent or significantly incomplete. Data collection efforts to fill these gaps are needed on a pressing basis:
! Basic parameters of gender and water/ sanitation use: Data are not typically available on things such as:
SA N I T A TI O N