Skip to main content

Supporting gender equality

Strengthening CRVS systems for equal access to rights and protections for all

The Sustainable Development Goals seek to eliminate poverty and create better life conditions for everyone. Gender equality is a goal in its own right, but also a precondition for achieving others.

At the Centre of Excellence for CRVS Systems, we recognize that to achieve gender equality, it is critical to have reliable, real-time data that is disaggregated by sex, geographic location, and other locally relevant characteristics to guide development policies and programs. This is particularly important for meeting the needs of marginalized and hard-to-reach populations, the overwhelming majority of whom are women and children.

Protecting women and children

Birth registration is a fundamental human right and an important tool for social protection. It is a gateway to registering other vital events throughout a person’s lifetime, and to securing adult identity documents. Proof of age and identity is critical to ensure that women, children, and other vulnerable groups can get jobs, open bank accounts, access credits and loans, own businesses, and vote. Having a trusted and trustworthy identity document can also be a tool to protect girls from early marriage.

Watch this video to learn why CRVS systems are important for achieving gender equality. Recording vital life events such as birth, marriage, divorce, and death is imperative to protecting the rights of all people and ensuring they can participate fully in society. Yet it is estimated that 1 billion people worldwide have no proof of legal identity due to weak CRVS systems. A disproportionate amount of these people are women and girls.

Removing barriers, seeking balance

Evidence suggests that while boys and girls are registered almost equally at birth, legislation often favours births being registered by male family representatives. This poses a serious barrier for women to register the births of their children, particularly women who are unmarried, or have been displaced due to violence or conflict. The result is that the world’s most marginalized women and children are further disadvantaged.

Marriage, divorce, and death registration are also critical tools for women’s empowerment, and for facilitating access to social benefits and protections. These are needed to access property rights, pension benefits, child support, or inheritance when a marriage ends, or when a spouse or parent dies.

Supporting policy and program development

Only 15% of the world’s population lives in countries where more than 90% of births and deaths are registered, and evidence suggests that women’s deaths are less likely to be registered than men’s. If the deaths of women and girls go unregistered, it compromises governments’ abilities to identify preventable causes, and develop policies and programs that reduce them.

Strong CRVS systems equip countries with evidence that can help inform the design and implementation of public policies to address the unique needs of marginalized groups – particularly young single mothers, widows, migrants, refugees, and members of minority ethnic or religious groups.

Our commitment

The Centre of Excellence advocates for strong CRVS systems to monitor progress toward gender equality, and pursues a programming approach that is intentional about integrating gender analysis across all our activities. 

Three smiling girls walk to school together
Photo credit: UN Women/Karin Schermbrucker
Birth registration and proof of legal age and identity are important tools for social protection, supporting access to schooling, health care, and employment.

We’ve become the go-to expert on gender and CRVS systems. We convened the world’s first conference on the issue, bringing together close to 100 policy experts and practitioners from around the globe. We’ve partnered with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to launch a cohort of Population Data Fellows to help build gender sensitive CRVS systems. And we’ve published a first-of-its-kind knowledge brief series on gender and CRVS.

We aim to capitalize on the momentum of this thought leadership by:

  • Mainstreaming gender analysis across all programs and grants
  • Supporting gender sensitive programming that reduces barriers to civil registration
  • Promoting and advocating for gender inclusive CRVS systems
  • Generating evidence on the issues of gender in CRVS systems
  • Achieving gender parity in the capacity development programs that we support

Resources on gender equality

Learn more about gender equality and CRVS systems in our publications, videos, articles, and other resources:



Articles and blog posts