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Measurement issues in dimensions of gender and wellbeing: The prospects for the
Social Development Goal 5 in Uganda
By
Margaret Kakande
Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
Uganda
Introduction
The world is shifting from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) with a lot of optimism. The achievement of SGDs will greatly depend on the
effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation systems in various countries. The issue of gender
equality and women’s empowerment is still high on the Agenda.1
This calls for gender
responsive statistical systems since gender is a cross-cutting issue although it has a specific goal.
Gender equality is a multi-dimensional concept whose measurement is complex. Gender equality
can be reviewed under the dimensions of: rights; attitudes and practices; resource distribution; or
capabilities. Secondly gender equality has to be considered in multiple contexts- family life; that
of work and the public sphere. Lastly, gender equality can be an experience –from the
perspective of an individual participant to a condition actively negotiated and created within
relationships (Ewa Krzaklewska, 2014).
The availability and quality of some aspects of gender –related wellbeing (education, life
expectancy) has improved in many countries but there are data and measurement gaps for many.
This paper will focus on SDG 5 to illustrate the some of the anticipated concerns in measurement
and monitoring in dimensions of gender and well being. The key aspects to be monitored under
this goal are gender equality and empowerment. Currently there are 12 indicators proposed for
the assessment of this SGD, listed below.
1
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and men
2
1. Prevalence of girls and women 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence
(by an intimate partner) in the last 12 months
2. Percentage of referred cases of sexual and gender –based violence against women and
children that are investigated and sentenced
3. Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union by age 18
4. Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 who have undergone FGM/C
5. Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined(total work burden),
by sex
6. Percentage of seats held by women and minorities in national parliament and/or sub-
national selected office according to their respective share of the population
7. Met demand for family planning
8. Gender gap in wages, by sector of economic activity
9. Share of women on corporate boards of national/multi-national corporations
10. Percentage of women without incomes of their own
11. Adolescent birth rate
12. Percentage of young people receiving comprehensive sexuality education
Measurement and statistical monitoring issues
This paper will use selected indicators to illustrate some of the issues basing on Uganda’s
experience.
Indicator: Prevalence of girls and women 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual
violence (by an intimate partner) in the last 12 months.
This is an indicator that would assess the women’s and girls’ empowerment in controlling their
sexuality. The problem will be the accuracy of statistical data collected. The Uganda
Demographic survey (2006) established that collecting valid, reliable, and ethical data on
intimate partner violence poses particular challenges because: i) what constitutes violence or
abuse varies across cultures and individuals, ii) a culture of silence surrounds domestic violence
which affects reporting; iii) the sensitivity of the topic, concerns for the safety of respondents and
interviewers when asking about domestic violence in a familial setting, and the protection of
women who disclose violence, all raise ethical concerns.
3
To some sections of the Uganda population, what is defined as physical violence is actually
assign of love as a partner disciplines the other. The UDHS 2006, revealed that 24.2% of the
women believed their husbands had a right to beat them if they refused to have sex with them,
67.3% if they neglected children, 56.3% if they went away without informing their spouse,
36.9% if they argued with him, 22.2% if they burned the food.
Indicator: Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined (total work
burden), by sex.
It is true that long working hours have a negative effect on one’s well-being. However, the
differences in working hours may be a result of informed choices by males and females and
therefore may not signify inequalities in opportunities. Couples may find it optimal to specialize
in different forms of activities and therefore the resultant inequality in time use (Stephan Klasen,
2004). For example, in Uganda, bonding with ones off-springs is priceless and many women are
willing to spend hours nursing their children. There are many women who are ready to sacrifice
anything for the sake of their children. Basing on that perspective, the happiness derived from
nursing off-springs, may not necessarily be detrimental to the wellbeing of the mothers despite
the long hours of work. In such instances, it would be difficult to discern what gender concept
should be measured and how to interpret the results.
Indicator: Percentage of seats held by women and minorities in national parliament and/or
sub-national selected office according to their respective share of the population
In many countries, it was assumed that having many women in parliament was very desirable. It
was to empower the female Members of Parliament who in turn would promote gender
responsive legislation. To that effect, it is supposed to be a good measure of gender equality.
In Uganda, the number of women in parliament increased from 30 percent in 2006 to 35 percent
in 2011. This makes Uganda one of the leading countries with female Members of Parliament.
How then should this indicator be interpreted… that Uganda has enhanced gender equality or
empowerment? Unfortunately none of the two indicators can be said to have improved.
4
 In terms of gender equality, having a bigger number of women in parliament did not
result in legislation of more gender responsive laws. One of the most important Bills, the
Marriage and Divorce Bill has been on the books for over 4 decades. This Bill was
supposed to address the critical issue of control over productive resources that largely
determines decision making powers within households. During the sessional debates in
2014, some women Members of Parliament opposed the passing of the Bill.
On the other hand, the land mark legislation on violence: The Domestic Violence Act 2010; The
Sexual Offenses Act; and the Female Genital Mutilation Act were passed because of the drive by
male legislators. Currently the debate in Uganda is whether the issue in the number of female
legislators or the gender awareness among all legislators. This is because gender as a process is
being assessed which may not have the requisite outcomes. In that case should the indicator be
the number of female legislators or the number of gender responsive laws enacted?
 Under the argument of empowerment it is also a concern. Whose empowerment is being
assessed? As noted above, the critical gender responsive laws may not be instituted to
foster empowerment of women in general. However, even the empowerment of
individual female Members of Parliament is questionable. Many female legislators have
made no contribution in the House debates. In addition it is reported that many female
legislators are suffering domestic violence which negatively affects their well-being.
Indictor: Share of women on corporate boards of national/multi-national corporations
The same arguments as for number of female legislators can be put forward for this indicator.
Is this a good measure of gender equality if the working environment (policies, procedures
and practices) do not change when more women join the ranks of corporate boards?
Indicator: Percentage of women without incomes of their own
It is believed that economic empowerment is a prerequisite for effective gender equality.
Economic empowerment is influenced by level of income. The number of women with no
income of their own, therefore would be a good indicator of empowerment. It is also
assumed that level of income determines well-being.
5
Studies in Uganda have established that in households where women have become income
earners, the men have reduced their financial support. This has left many women stressed as
they have taken on the provisioning for the households which has not improved their well –
being. In addition, in some instances, domestic violence has escalated when women take
household decisions.
Conclusion
Gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable development but its measurement still has
issues. This is because gender is a complex concept and what constitutes gender equality will
always be a concern. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that gender is dynamic over
time and space. This will lead to gender--related data inconsistencies over time and across
countries. The reliability of the measurement indicators is weakened as noted for the
Sustainable development Goal 5.
It is recommended that more national studies are conducted to conceptualize what actually
constitutes gender equality. Although this may cause problems of comparability across
counties, this is a tradeoff that has to be made.
References
Ewa Krzaklewska (2014): Measurement of gender equality – analysing dimensions,
embracing areas, considering contexts. Working paper No 1.2 “Gender Equality and Quality
of Life- State of the Art Report”
Margaret Kakande (2011): National study on violence against women: Uganda
Stephan Klasen (2004): Gender –related indicators of well-being. Discussion Paper No
2004/05
Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2006): Uganda Demographic and Health Survey report
United Nations: Suggested SDG Indicators arranged by OWG Goals

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HLEG thematic workshop on Measurement of Well Being and Development in Africa, Margaret Kakande

  • 1. 1 Measurement issues in dimensions of gender and wellbeing: The prospects for the Social Development Goal 5 in Uganda By Margaret Kakande Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development Uganda Introduction The world is shifting from Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a lot of optimism. The achievement of SGDs will greatly depend on the effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation systems in various countries. The issue of gender equality and women’s empowerment is still high on the Agenda.1 This calls for gender responsive statistical systems since gender is a cross-cutting issue although it has a specific goal. Gender equality is a multi-dimensional concept whose measurement is complex. Gender equality can be reviewed under the dimensions of: rights; attitudes and practices; resource distribution; or capabilities. Secondly gender equality has to be considered in multiple contexts- family life; that of work and the public sphere. Lastly, gender equality can be an experience –from the perspective of an individual participant to a condition actively negotiated and created within relationships (Ewa Krzaklewska, 2014). The availability and quality of some aspects of gender –related wellbeing (education, life expectancy) has improved in many countries but there are data and measurement gaps for many. This paper will focus on SDG 5 to illustrate the some of the anticipated concerns in measurement and monitoring in dimensions of gender and well being. The key aspects to be monitored under this goal are gender equality and empowerment. Currently there are 12 indicators proposed for the assessment of this SGD, listed below. 1 Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and men
  • 2. 2 1. Prevalence of girls and women 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence (by an intimate partner) in the last 12 months 2. Percentage of referred cases of sexual and gender –based violence against women and children that are investigated and sentenced 3. Percentage of women aged 20-24 who were married or in union by age 18 4. Percentage of girls and women aged 15-49 who have undergone FGM/C 5. Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined(total work burden), by sex 6. Percentage of seats held by women and minorities in national parliament and/or sub- national selected office according to their respective share of the population 7. Met demand for family planning 8. Gender gap in wages, by sector of economic activity 9. Share of women on corporate boards of national/multi-national corporations 10. Percentage of women without incomes of their own 11. Adolescent birth rate 12. Percentage of young people receiving comprehensive sexuality education Measurement and statistical monitoring issues This paper will use selected indicators to illustrate some of the issues basing on Uganda’s experience. Indicator: Prevalence of girls and women 15-49 who have experienced physical or sexual violence (by an intimate partner) in the last 12 months. This is an indicator that would assess the women’s and girls’ empowerment in controlling their sexuality. The problem will be the accuracy of statistical data collected. The Uganda Demographic survey (2006) established that collecting valid, reliable, and ethical data on intimate partner violence poses particular challenges because: i) what constitutes violence or abuse varies across cultures and individuals, ii) a culture of silence surrounds domestic violence which affects reporting; iii) the sensitivity of the topic, concerns for the safety of respondents and interviewers when asking about domestic violence in a familial setting, and the protection of women who disclose violence, all raise ethical concerns.
  • 3. 3 To some sections of the Uganda population, what is defined as physical violence is actually assign of love as a partner disciplines the other. The UDHS 2006, revealed that 24.2% of the women believed their husbands had a right to beat them if they refused to have sex with them, 67.3% if they neglected children, 56.3% if they went away without informing their spouse, 36.9% if they argued with him, 22.2% if they burned the food. Indicator: Average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work combined (total work burden), by sex. It is true that long working hours have a negative effect on one’s well-being. However, the differences in working hours may be a result of informed choices by males and females and therefore may not signify inequalities in opportunities. Couples may find it optimal to specialize in different forms of activities and therefore the resultant inequality in time use (Stephan Klasen, 2004). For example, in Uganda, bonding with ones off-springs is priceless and many women are willing to spend hours nursing their children. There are many women who are ready to sacrifice anything for the sake of their children. Basing on that perspective, the happiness derived from nursing off-springs, may not necessarily be detrimental to the wellbeing of the mothers despite the long hours of work. In such instances, it would be difficult to discern what gender concept should be measured and how to interpret the results. Indicator: Percentage of seats held by women and minorities in national parliament and/or sub-national selected office according to their respective share of the population In many countries, it was assumed that having many women in parliament was very desirable. It was to empower the female Members of Parliament who in turn would promote gender responsive legislation. To that effect, it is supposed to be a good measure of gender equality. In Uganda, the number of women in parliament increased from 30 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in 2011. This makes Uganda one of the leading countries with female Members of Parliament. How then should this indicator be interpreted… that Uganda has enhanced gender equality or empowerment? Unfortunately none of the two indicators can be said to have improved.
  • 4. 4  In terms of gender equality, having a bigger number of women in parliament did not result in legislation of more gender responsive laws. One of the most important Bills, the Marriage and Divorce Bill has been on the books for over 4 decades. This Bill was supposed to address the critical issue of control over productive resources that largely determines decision making powers within households. During the sessional debates in 2014, some women Members of Parliament opposed the passing of the Bill. On the other hand, the land mark legislation on violence: The Domestic Violence Act 2010; The Sexual Offenses Act; and the Female Genital Mutilation Act were passed because of the drive by male legislators. Currently the debate in Uganda is whether the issue in the number of female legislators or the gender awareness among all legislators. This is because gender as a process is being assessed which may not have the requisite outcomes. In that case should the indicator be the number of female legislators or the number of gender responsive laws enacted?  Under the argument of empowerment it is also a concern. Whose empowerment is being assessed? As noted above, the critical gender responsive laws may not be instituted to foster empowerment of women in general. However, even the empowerment of individual female Members of Parliament is questionable. Many female legislators have made no contribution in the House debates. In addition it is reported that many female legislators are suffering domestic violence which negatively affects their well-being. Indictor: Share of women on corporate boards of national/multi-national corporations The same arguments as for number of female legislators can be put forward for this indicator. Is this a good measure of gender equality if the working environment (policies, procedures and practices) do not change when more women join the ranks of corporate boards? Indicator: Percentage of women without incomes of their own It is believed that economic empowerment is a prerequisite for effective gender equality. Economic empowerment is influenced by level of income. The number of women with no income of their own, therefore would be a good indicator of empowerment. It is also assumed that level of income determines well-being.
  • 5. 5 Studies in Uganda have established that in households where women have become income earners, the men have reduced their financial support. This has left many women stressed as they have taken on the provisioning for the households which has not improved their well – being. In addition, in some instances, domestic violence has escalated when women take household decisions. Conclusion Gender equality is a prerequisite for sustainable development but its measurement still has issues. This is because gender is a complex concept and what constitutes gender equality will always be a concern. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that gender is dynamic over time and space. This will lead to gender--related data inconsistencies over time and across countries. The reliability of the measurement indicators is weakened as noted for the Sustainable development Goal 5. It is recommended that more national studies are conducted to conceptualize what actually constitutes gender equality. Although this may cause problems of comparability across counties, this is a tradeoff that has to be made. References Ewa Krzaklewska (2014): Measurement of gender equality – analysing dimensions, embracing areas, considering contexts. Working paper No 1.2 “Gender Equality and Quality of Life- State of the Art Report” Margaret Kakande (2011): National study on violence against women: Uganda Stephan Klasen (2004): Gender –related indicators of well-being. Discussion Paper No 2004/05 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (2006): Uganda Demographic and Health Survey report United Nations: Suggested SDG Indicators arranged by OWG Goals