Civil Registration and Vital Statistics
Civil registration is the continuous, permanent, compulsory, and universal recording of vital events (notably, live births, deaths, causes of death, and marriage and divorce). A vital statistics system processes vital event data.
Why it matters
Civil registration and vital statistics (CRVS) systems provide basic demographic and health information for countries and access to legal status for individuals. But there are huge gaps in the availability of vital statistics, beginning with birth registrations. About 230 million children, or 35 percent of all children under the age of five, have not had their births registered.[i] And only one-third of countries keep complete civil registries that capture deaths and causes of death.[ii]
Maintaining a quality CRVS system can have disproportionately positive benefits for women and girls. While CRVS is becoming more widely discussed as a development issue, gender considerations are often overlooked. Girls and boys are registered almost equally across countries, but women are often disadvantaged in the ability to register their children. Poor and uneducated women are significantly less likely than better-off women to register their children. In some countries, a woman must be legally married to register her child; in others, the father’s signature is required.
Few CRVS systems around the world record marriages and divorces, a legal record that can help women retain their share of assets and other protections in the event of divorce. Registering girls at birth and recording their marriages can reveal early and forced marriages and provide women with the possibility of legal recourse. Indeed, having individual legal identity allows women to exercise rights and responsibilities.
To better understand why improving CRVS systems is crucial for identifying and solving gender inequalities, view the CRVS & Gender Infographic.
Partnering with Data2X
CRVS is inherently country-led, but international and regional guidance can encourage momentum and harmonization. Data2X supported gender and national CRVS strengthening efforts through two regional partnerships: in Africa, with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Africa Programme for Accelerated Improvement of CRVS (APAI-CRVS), and the African Development Bank, covering 54 countries; and in Asia and the Pacific, with the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), covering 60 countries. Data2X helped national and regional bodies incorporate a gender dimension into national CRVS plans through gender analysis of existing data, and into global and regional advocacy to highlight the importance of including marriage and divorce registration as critical components of CRVS strengthening efforts – given these events’ particular relevance for women and girls’ lives.
- Gender Issues in CRVS and Access to Adult Identity Documentation
- Assessment of the Quality and Relevance of Existing Data to Monitor the Gender Dimensions of CRVS in Asia and the Pacific
- The Gender Dimensions of Birth Registration in Sub-Saharan Africa: What Can the Data Tell Us?
- Working Paper: Gendered Dimensions of Marriage and Divorce Registration Laws in Africa
[i] UNICEF. 2013. Every Child’s Birth Right: Inequalities and Trends in Birth Registration. New York.
[ii] World Health Organization. 2012. World Health Statistics. Geneva.