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How the census can help bridge the gender data gap

The Census 2021 data gives us a once in a decade opportunity to analyse population data at local level through a feminist intersectional lens.

The release of Census 2021 data gives us a once in a decade opportunity to analyse population data at local level through a feminist intersectional lens. On this occasion, we and the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at KCL held an event that brought together feminist researchers and women from feminist grassroots organisations to explore and analyse census data together.

Data, such as that revealed in the census, is meaningless unless those whom it measures have a say in how it is interpreted and can hold policy makers to account for their actions.



We kicked off the day with a lively and engaging panel discussion, featuring a brilliant lineup of feminist researchers who shared their invaluable knowledge, expertly chaired by Stella Creasy MP. WBG’s Dr Liz Hind set the tone by giving us insights into her work with the Local Data Project (LDP). The LDP aims to ensure that grassroots women’s organisations feel confident understanding how data is used to evidence the impact of policies on them and the women they represent, and support their campaigns for change.

Next up was Dr Caitlin Schmid, presenting on the brilliant work she’s doing at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at KCL, emphasizing the importance of gender data collection in order to understand gender inequality levels over time.

Caroline Criado-Perez OBE, acclaimed author of ‘Invisible Women: Exposing data bias in a world designed for men’, summed up the essence of the discussion by stressing that:

“Data isn’t just abstract numbers, data drives our world, the decision and systems that affect every single one of us – so it really matters when we leave half of the world’s population out. Always, sex-disaggregate your data.”

Finally, Jennette Arnold OBE, a trailblazer in tackling the gender data gap, brilliantly highlighted the interconnected nature of gender inequality with other forms of discrimination, such as class, race, sexuality, and disability. To bridge this data gap effectively, she urged us to apply an intersectional lens to our analyses to understand the multifaceted dimensions of gendered inequalities.

Stella Creasy skillfully moderated the Q&A session, leaving us with a resounding message: accurate gendered data holds immense power in challenging policymakers and holding governments to account

The morning panel set the stage for the subsequent hands-on data ‘dig in’ sessions, where feminist researchers and grassroots organisations delved into Census 2021 data, unearthing hidden facets of inequality. Combining statistics with lived experience, we brought raw data to life, moving us one step closer to bridging the gender data gap. Thank you to everyone who joined us at our Census event for a day of learning how to use census data to effect change and exploring the importance of feminist analysis to work out the stories behind the stats.

We are now working on a report summarising the findings from the day and will upload it here in due course.

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