Whereas the terms are often used interchangeably, sex-disaggregated data refer to data on individuals that are broken down by biological sex. In turn, these can be used to produce gender statistics on migration. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles and relationships, personality traits, attitudes, behaviours, values, relative power and influence that society ascribes to the sexes on a differential basis. Gender is relational and refers not simply to women or men but to the relationship between them.

Notions of gender are rooted in culture and shift over time, with wide variations within and between cultures. This means that many places recognize the existence of diverse gender identities beyond men and women. Gender identity refers to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth or the gender attributed to them by society (UNHCR and IOM 2017).

There continues to be a significant lack of sex-disaggregated data and gender statistics on migration. In order to formulate gender-responsive migration policy and protect the rights of women and gender-diverse people on the move, accurate information and data that reflect the experiences of women and gender-diverse people throughout all stages of migration are needed. This involves gathering and acting upon sex-disaggregated data, while also identifying additional indicators and information beyond sex-based binaries to understand the needs of diverse individuals on the move. Likewise, data analysis needs to be unbiased, gender sensitive and reflect the diversity of people on the move, including in terms of age, sex, gender identity, disability, race, education and more, as appropriate, while placing these characteristics in the relevant social, economic and cultural context (IOM 2021).

Additional resources:

Hennebry et al (forthcoming) Migration Data and Gender: a Guidance Note. IOM

IOM (2021) IOM Migration Data Strategy

Migration Data Portal/Gender and migration page

UNHCR and IOM (2017) Glossary on LGBTI terminology

Click on the thematic area Migration Data and Registration to learn more.

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