Sex and The Census:
The census has a breadth and depth that allow us to accurately measure societal trends. As such, the census is a vital tool in measuring the position of minorities within our society and vital in measuring and monitoring women's changing situation.
The data gathered by the census has been key in understanding the impact of economic and political policy on women, and key in developing new policy, budgets and strategy to tackle the inequality faced by women.
So you may be surprised to learn that the Office of National Statistics (England & Wales) has not been accurately recording sex for some time. In 2011 (without oversight or consultation), guidance was changed to allow respondents to answer their sex according to gender identity. It is unclear how many people were aware of this, or how the extent of this policy impacted in accurate sex data. What is clear, is that with the increasing numbers of people expressing a gender identity in 2021 that this policy will impact on the accurate record keeping provided by the ten year census. This is not to say that gender identity should not be measured, quite the contrary, but that sex, as a measure must be recorded accurately to ensure the voracity of data, and to protect the societal mechanism used to monitor and address sex inequality.
If you can not measure sex inequality, you can not tackle it. #sexmatters
In addition, The EHRC has advised the Scottish Government Sex & Data Working Group (Scottish Census), to allow respondents to record self identified sex. Legal advice sought by Woman's Place UK agrees with feminists and many data experts, that this guidance is not lawful.
Despite feminist groups advocating for women, our government and it's institutions seem to need constant reminders that women exist and #womenmatter. We are to often forgotten in policy, let them not forget us in data too. Women we need your help...
Introducing The Political Erasure of Sex: Sex and The Census
The Political Erasure of Sex: Sex and the Census, funded by Oxford University, is a powerful and comprehensive document on why #sexmatters. It looks in detail at the importance of sex based data and at the policy capture throughout government organisations that has lead to this situation.
The Political Erasure of Sex will be arriving on the desks of every MP (England, Wales, Scotland and N Ireland). A huge body of work, WE need you to help us get it over the line:
Please contact your MP in the coming days to let them know it is arriving, and why it is important.
An email template can be found here.
For further information on sex, data collection and the census please see A Woman's Place is In Conversation: Sex and The Census. This webinar was attended by 1000 women, so sisters you are not alone in your concerns: