How to develop gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators

Activity 3.2

How to develop gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators


Developing practical and achievable outcomes and indicators are critical to developing policy and measuring success. Using your evidence, insights and engagement, will help you shape gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators accurately and reliably.

  • What are outcomes and indicators, and why are these important?
  • What are gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators?
  • How can I develop gender-sensitive indicators?

Outcomes are changes that a policy is expected to achieve, and indicators are methods of measuring these. Outcomes and their corresponding indicators can demonstrate what difference a policy has made, and show evidence of what works and for whom over time.

What are outcomes and indicators, and why are these important?

Outcomes and indicators shape what is important for policy professionals, and focus action, resourcing and investment. Therefore, developing good outcomes and indicators takes time, expertise and engagement.

Outcomes show expected changes to behaviours, attitudes, knowledge or skills that a policy will achieve. They can be short, medium and long-term in length, and focus on action and resourcing.

Indicators are measures that show if and how outcomes are being achieved. They can measure objective change over time (eg. changes in quantity, size, ratio) and subjective change (eg. changes in opinion, feelings, wellbeing). They need to be statistically reliable, validated and relevant to outcomes, and where possible, measure change from a fixed point in time (baseline).

What are gender-sensitive outcomes and indicators?

Developing outcomes and indicators for your policy outcomes is both a technical skill (measurement quality, reliability and validity) and a contextual skill (what does “good” look like for a population, what is the political situation re measuring change, what are policy priorities).

Gender-sensitive indicators focus measures of performance on gender equality. At a minimum this requires the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated information. For more complex intersectional analysis, engagement and expertise is required to understand key population and identify variables that could be explored to truly understand change and impact.

A good example of high-level outcomes and their indicators using sex-disaggregated data is APEC's five pillars of economic empowerment for women and how these will be achieved. The following table gives a high-level example of indictors for each pillar.

High-level outcome Total number of indicators Example of one Indicator Outcome this indicator hopes to measure. Source for this indicator (annual collection) Is a baseline available?
1. Access to capital and assets 16 What is women's access to credit Ensure all APEC economies have non-discriminatory access to credit across. OECD – Social Inclusion and Gender Index 2008 – 2020, 9 economies have laws that prohibit discrimination based on gender.
2. Access to markets 20 What is women's access to employment Ensure all APEC economies enable women's access to similar industries to men. Women, business and law data 2008, 10 economies allow women to work in same industries as men
3. Skills, capacity building and health 15 What is women's participation in STEM Women at or above 50% enrolment in tertiary STEM UNICEF and WHO data Currently less than 35% of women in tertiary STEM
4. Leadership, voice and agency 21 Do women receive same pay for same work Gender wage parity across all APEC economies Women, business and law data 8 economies mandated gender parity in 2008 / 10 in 2020.
5. Innovation and technology 23 Affordability of internet indicative of access Increased affordability across all APEC economies International Telco tariffs vs Government online service Cost of mobile access in 2008 at x amount
Source: the APEC women and economy dashboard

How can I develop gender-sensitive indicators?

There are many different approaches to developing indicators but more broadly,

Step 1: Who should be involved? Engage expertise and key stakeholders to discuss potential indicators and "what good looks like". Indicators need to be statistically relevant but also relevant to communities, reflecting ways in which gender inequality is experienced.

Step 2: Are there existing indicators? Often existing indicators have been tested for reliability and validity but may need to be shaped to specific policy requirements.

Step 3: How can a decision be made to choose an indicator? List potential indicators and look carefully with stakeholders at technical and contextual criteria. Filter and refine.

Step 4: How many indicators are required? List and prioritise indicators, existing source of data, baseline (if available) and targets on a table to see an overview. Any data collected should be directly related to outcomes.

Step 5: Do I need to develop a new survey? Developing a new survey requires time, expertise and investment. Engage with gender and survey experts in your economy, with a focus on sex-disaggregated data as a minimum. With a clear awareness of what data is already being used in your economy, there may be an opportunity to add a question or section to an existing survey.

Case study: developing outcomes and indicators in partnership with key population groups

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy in New Zealand was developed to drive government action on children wellbeing. The strategy was informed by wide stakeholder engagement in 2018, including researched that heard from over 6000 children and young people to understand directly from them "what a good life looks like".

As a result of this engagement, 36 indicators (measures) were developed for six outcomes. For example, Outcome 6 is for young people to be Involved and Empowered. This outcome has 4 indicators to measure progress. An example of one of these indicators is Involvement in the Community – that is, the percentage of young people who report helping others in the neighbourhood and community.

The source of data for each indicator included existing administrative or survey data. However, a new survey also had to be developed to gather the correct information to measure progress. This resulted in a new nationwide Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey, WhatAboutMe? expected to reach 14,000 young people and be the main source of data for half the strategy's indicators.

Each indicator was also assessed for technical validity and reliability, and contextual relevance to children and young people.

The simplicity of language for outcomes and indicators and the shared responsibility across government departments for collecting data has resulted in extensive buy-in for the strategy and accountability to achieve change.

Source: www.childyouthwellbeing.govt.nz/measuring-success/indicators

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