Clinton and Bloomberg announce UN partnership to help every woman and girl in Asia-Pacific realize right to legal identity
Secretary Hillary Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, representing Data2X, an international initiative to close gender gaps, announced its partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in New York on Monday.
The partnership will ensure that regional efforts to improve civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems during the “Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade (2015-2024)” contribute to gender equality by giving particular attention to the challenges faced by women and girls to getting a legal identity and being included in official statistics.
It is estimated that 135 million children under the age of five in Asia and the Pacific have not had their birth registered, and are thus unable to prove who they or their parents are. These children, as well as the many people of other ages in the region without a legal identity, are formally non-existent. Some of the challenges they may face include being unable to go to school or visit a doctor and being restricted from voting or owning property. Furthermore, they are less likely to have a nationality and are more vulnerable in natural disasters and emergencies, since there is no official trace of their existence.
Hailing the announcement as an important milestone for the “Get Every One in the Picture” regional initiative, Mr. Shun-ichi Murata, ESCAP Deputy Executive Secretary noted: “Leaving no one behind will be a core tenet of the post-2015 development agenda, and providing every man, woman, girl and boy a legal identity, and including them in official statistics that should guide the decisions we make, are absolutely critical to achieving this aim. This partnership with Data2x is a significant step in that direction.”
The announcement comes on the heels of the first Ministerial Conference on CRVS in Asia and the Pacific that ESCAP convened in November as part of the “Get Every One in the Picture” initiative to improve CRVS in the region, during which governments of ESCAP member States made historic commitments of universal civil registration of births and deaths, legal documentation for all and better vital statistics based on civil registration, all by the end of the Asian and Pacific CRVS Decade in 2024.
The ESCAP-Data2x partnership will mainstream the gender dimension in national and regional CRVS plans as part of the “Get Every One in the Picture” initiative. Together, the partners will advocate for the importance of CRVS and promote gender equality; analyze gender constraints and opportunities such as incorporating marriage and divorce registration into national CRVS improvement plans and the importance, for development, of gender-sensitive data arising from CRVS systems; assess women’s awareness of and demand for individual legal identity; engage women’s organizations to advocate for CRVS; and explore the use of information technologies to improve reliability, coverage and awareness of the benefits of CRVS systems.
Only four countries in the region, out of 58, have reliable systems for registering deaths and recording medical causes of death, which are critical systems for monitoring disease trends and producing evidence to inform public health and social policies. In the absence of these systems, estimates and models are used, based on surveys that are often expensive and unsustainable, and, importantly, may not reflect the real situation, particularly among vulnerable population groups.
While there is no gender gap between the registration of the births of boys and girls, the lack of registration for women and girls can have disproportionately damaging impacts. If a mother is not registered, it is far less likely that her children will be registered; creating a vicious cycle of official ‘invisibility’ and contributing to persistent poverty, and marriage registration is a key tool for fighting early and forced marriage.
In addition, the CRVS systems that register births, deaths, marriages, divorces and adoptions in countries are widely recognized as the best source of data for monitoring maternal mortality, adolescent pregnancy and population dynamics, which are key evidence bases for policies that empower and offer a better future for women and girls, especially because they are more easily disaggregated.
About Data2X: Data2X, named for the power women have to multiply progress in their societies, works to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment by building partnerships to improve data collection and use to guide policy, better leverage investments, and spur global economic and social progress. The initiative, led by the United Nations Foundation, with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and ongoing collaboration with the Office of Hillary Clinton, serves as a platform for partners to work together for improved data collection and use. For more information visit: http://data2x.org