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Select pro-poor and gender-sensitive indicators


Core components of governance are important to all, including such as transparency in decision making; access to information; accountability of both public and private sectors through mechanisms such as a free press and freedom of expression; efficiency and effectiveness of public administration; popular participation through democratic institutions; and the rule of law based on universally recognized principles of human rights. However, they tend to mean different things to different individuals and social groups, and to be experienced differently.
Therefore, indicators need to capture and reflect the potentially different impacts that the mechanisms and processes of governance have on different social groups. This requires going beyond simply disaggregating data by socioeconomic group or by sex and striving to select indicators that are sensitive to possible difference at the outset. This point is illustrated in the following examples of pro-poor and gender-sensitive indicators.
The boxes below illustrate four senses in which a governance indicator might be considered poverty- and gender-sensitive:
Box 1: Poverty-sensitive governance indicators
In four senses can a governance indicator be considered pro-poor:
(i)                   Specific to the poor:  The indicator measures a governance practice specifically targeted at the poor, such as low-cost law courts; this may include, for example, the percentage of poor population covered by People’s Courts (Lok Adalats) in India, or the percentage of cases brought to trial at People’s Courts that were initiated by non-poor households.
(ii)                 Implicitly pro-poor: The indicator makes no explicit reference to the poor; however, if it is interpreted within a wider economic, social and political context, it is clear that it is particularly relevant to low-income groups. This may include, for example, the number of hours per day that polling booths are open during election periods. [The higher the number of hours, the greater the opportunities for casual labourers and shift workers to vote without loss of earnings.]
(iii)                Chosen by the poor: The integration of participatory techniques with survey methods provides an opportunity for low-income groups to identify and have measured governance indicators considered of particular interest to the poor. For example, this may include the acceptance by authorities of documentation other than birth certificates in the process of voter registration.
(iv)                Disaggregated by poverty status: Disaggregation is important because it allows the value of an indicator for the poor to be compared with the value of the same indicator for the non-poor. An example in this case may include the ratio of voter turnout among the electorate living in poor households to that of the electorate living in non-poor households.
UNDP, Measuring Democratic Governance: A Framework for Selecting Pro-Poor and Gender-Sensitive Indicators, May 2006 (
Box 2: Gender-sensitive governance indicators
(i)                   Gender-specific: This group of indicators measures governance practices specifically targeted at women or men. In practice, it is likely to be made up largely of the inputs, outputs and outcomes of policies designed to increase women’s empowerment; an example might be the percentage of seats in national parliament reserved for women.
(ii)                 Implicitly gendered: In this case, the indicator makes no explicit reference to gender. However, if it is interpreted within a broader context, it is clear that the indicator is of particular relevance to women or men. This may include, for example, the number and percentage of reported rape cases prosecuted in courts (victims almost exclusively female), or the number and percentage of reported cases of domestic violence prosecuted in courts (victims predominantly female).
(iii)                Chosen separately by men and women: These indicators need not refer to gender at all -- t hey may simply reflect differences in men’s and women’s preferences and priorities regarding different areas of governance. An example of this type may include the percentage of women who say that they receive adequate information from the government on policies and laws affecting them.
(iv)                Disaggregated by sex: The value of the indicator is calculated separately for men and women and so allows comparisons to be made between the two groups; for example, this may include the ratio of voter turnout among men to that of voter turnout among women.
UNDP, Measuring Democratic Governance: A Framework for Selecting Pro-Poor and Gender-Sensitive Indicators, May 2006