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Statistics as a tool for gender equality

Women and men are entitled to equal care and welfare. At the same time, national statistics show that men are allocated more resources than women even when the needs are equivalent. The finance department at Enskede-Årsta-Vantör district administration decided to examine themselves and made an analysis of their figures - a gender budget.

Since 2015, Enskede-Årsta-Vantör, which is part of Stockholm, has an action plan for its gender equality work. It states, among other things, that: ‘Enskede-Årsta-Vantör district administration works actively to ensure that gender equality integrates all activities. Issues like gender equality, equality, sustainability and quality are prioritized in order to create equal conditions and life chances for girls and boys, women and men.’ The action plan also states that gendered statistics with subsequent analysis are some of the keys in order to discover any gender inequality.

The district’s finance department has therefore analysed how resources are distributed between men and women with disabilities. The reason the data focuses on this group is that there is existing data on an individual basis. But this is the first time the data is used to make an analysis based on gender.

The finance department started its work on collecting statistics from the operations. After it was done, they began processing the data along with the costs.

A “wow” experience

The results confirmed the National Board of Health and Welfare’s statistics. Men with disabilities are generally allocated more resources than women. Through its work, the finance department has been able to state that there is now black on white that gender matters when decisions are taken about interventions.

“When we showed the tables on an inspirational day in another district administration, it started to bubble in the hall. I think it is because when you add the cost to it, it will not only be numbers”, says CFO Ulrika Klemets.

She continues:

“It’s fun to process statistics in this way. It engages when you get new results, then you start to think.”

To see the imbalance in numbers engaged the employees. Ulrika Klemets describes it as a “wow experience”. The next step is that the finance department will hand over the material to the operations. It is then the task of the operation to work out proposals on how to overcome the fact that men are generally allocated more resources than women.

Skills development – a step forward

Statistics is a tool to show that there is a pattern for how people are treated and judged on the basis of gender. Because these patterns depend on unspoken norms and expectations, discrimination often takes place completely unconsciously. Therefore, the analysis of the statistics becomes important for raising awareness of how norms and beliefs affect the distribution of resources, but also a basic knowledge of gender equality.

When issues concerning gender equality are raised, uncertainty and skepticism can sometimes arise. The gender equality area is large and can be experienced as complicated. Making visible, analysing and taking action is an in-depth work. Before an action can be formulated and put into effect, the entire business needs to have the same foundation to stand on.

“Knowledge of gender (in)equality, norms and discrimination is important for new initiatives to have an impact and actually be implemented”, says Ulrika Klemets.

In Enskede-Årsta-Vantör, the focus on skills development for managers, investigators and controllers was crucial. Ulrika Klemets also points out the extra support provided by the district administration’s gender equality strategist, the help they received from statisticians and the managers’ involvement as important in the process. That the district administration also has its own action plan for the work on gender mainstreaming gives a push forward and the opportunity to work structured.

Systematics on the agenda

The future challenge for the finance department is to systematise the work on gender budgeting and move to the next area: individual and family welfare.

“I see it as a quality issue. We have to make sure that both women and men get what they need based on actual and individual needs. We must look at the smallest constituent and get all the facts”, says Ulrika Klemets.

The article was first published in "Human Rights - inspiration and ideas" by Stockholm city.
Edited: 27 Feb 2019
Published: 25 Feb 2019
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