Countries represented: Uganda, Cambodia, Senegal, Cameroon, South Africa, India, Bangladesh
Sex: Biological sex, the sex you were born with – female, male, intersex
Gender identity: person’s inner concept of self as a woman, man, a blend of both, or neither. A person’s gender identity can be the same or different from their sex assigned at birth.
Gender: A social and cultural construct which accordingly refers to the cultural and societal roles and norms of men and women and people of other gender identities.
How Gender Intersects with CRVS

Birth, death, and marriage certificates are components of CRVS systems, and govern every basic right for people of all genders, in most every country in the world. Having a gender focus is a key aspect of CRVS systems, even though at face value, it may not seem like it. However, in order to ensure we count everyone, and for all people receive the basic rights they are entitled to, it is critical that civil registration data is inclusive of all sexes and gender identities. This is important from an individual rights perspective, but also because these registrations are used to create complete vital statistics reports that inform public health planning and interventions for all population groups
It is critical that we call out gender within CRVS systems strengthening frameworks. If we don’t, our processes remain gender-blind/neutral, which benefits men and boys but NOT women, girls and people of other gender identities (where legal).
The WHO has created a scale of 5 gender assessment levels. In order to be gender-sensitive, at a minimum, CRVS systems and birth, death, and marriage registries must collect disaggregated data by SEX and AGE.
Impact of Gender-Exclusive CRVS Systems
Globally, we see a lot of disparity in recording of women’s death data. Marriage data is not properly recorded, especially in rural areas. By recording sex and age data in vital events registration, such as in marriage registration, the CRVS system prevents child marriage and protects women’s rights to property, inheritance, and other benefits.
By registering birthdates for babies born of both sexes, we can match them to marriage registrations, and gradually reduce and eliminate child marriages. Marriage below the age of 18 for girls is not allowed in many countries by law. But because of loopholes in birth registrations, young girls’ marriage is continuing.
CRVS is also intrinsically relevant to gender in that it also is necessary to measure fertility indicators; mortality rates which vary by gender; and causes of death which may be gender specific or vary by gender, such as gender-based violence.
In some countries, customs and norms disincentivize registration of vital events for women, including death. In many low and middle income countries, females do not own property, so family members do not see the value of registering the deaths of female family members.
Barriers to High Female Registration Rates
Registration of births and deaths, and sometimes even marriage, is often in the hands of a man, which as a system de-values the lives of women and girls. Many women lead their entire lives without a record of their birth or death.
In many countries, there is poor access by women to the public spaces where registrations are being conducted. Women may be confined to their homes with several household tasks and/or not allowed to interact with male registrars at all or unless accompanied by a man. Access to CRVS services is also impaired by points of service delivery in that some districts lack registration offices and mobile registrations have been overwhelmed and are not sustainable. This dampens the moral of potential CRVS seekers, especially those attempting to register the first time.
There is a higher proportion of female community deaths, and these deaths often go unrecorded often because of lack of qualified personnel to certify the deaths. Even in medical settings, cause of death for many women goes unrecorded.
There is also a lack of information about the importance of birth and death registrations for women and people of all genders. Low educational status and poverty contribute to this gap of knowledge.
Cross country migration without proper documentation can lead to late or missing birth registrations.
People with no specified nationality and/or refugees are left behind in terms of registration of vital events. Gender intersects with all these other vulnerabilities, to the detriment of women and girls, and people of other genders.
Solutions for Better Gender Integration in CRVS
  • Enable mobile birth and death registration.
  • Place female registrars in local registrar offices.
  • Train and support female paramedics and health volunteers to collect data around cause of deaths in communities. (Bangladesh)
  • Update national policies, statutory instruments, and/or regulations so that it is mandatory to notify the local registrar of deaths that are due to natural causes in a community.
  • Tag other, more urgent services (including basic needs, food, etc.) to CRVS. This worked during the pandemic with the tagging of COVID-19 vaccine certificates to travel restrictions lift, has increased vaccine uptake and dispelled myths. (Uganda)
  • Create an active notification system managed by traditional leaders who are required by law to notify deaths in their communities as they occur. (Zimbabwe)
  • Gender sensitivity training for CRVS teams and health workers involved in MCCOD and ICD-11 coding.
  • Formation of high level CRVS working committees that include diverse stakeholders beyond CRVS personnel, such as representatives from ministries related to gender, women’s health, family services, population health, etc.
  • Funding to support communication programs for mothers who are fully involved in domestic work that can tag a reminder on their mobile phones to support civil registrations, particularly births and deaths. (Uganda)
  • Engage more women’s groups and civil society to raise their voices to create political will around gender equity in CRVS.
  • Raise awareness about the community and public health values and benefits of recording all deaths and create evaluation measures to record successes and lessons learned. (India, Fiji, others)
    • Successful campaigns have already been implemented in Rajasthan, India: One named “PEHCHAN” which means Identity. This campaign led to the creation of a CRVS app named PEHCHAN to encourage people to register.
    • GHAI will be supporting several CRVS campaigns in the coming year in 5 countries with CSO partners. The one in India will be gender-focused to address female death registration, still birth registration and LGBTI registration.
    • Fiji has said they will raise awareness regarding death registration for women following the results of the CRVS inequality assessment.
CRVS Legal Review and Gender
The CRVS legal review process evaluates a country’s CRVS legal frameworks against international best practices for building a CRVS system that is gender-inclusive and equally accessible for all. The CRVS legal review process leads to legal reform whereby CRVS laws and regulations can be amended or developed to ensure equality and accessibility of services in the registration process for all women and men and people of other genders (where legal), as well as the collection of quality data for vital statistics production.
D4H partner GHAI is trying to do this CRVS legal review from a gender perspective in every country to address all of the legal and procedural issues related to inequities. This is the beginning of the process: Then we need to build political will for change by engaging women’s groups/civil societies, female government workers, and Ministries related to women and children’s issues to adopt gender equitable reforms.


Further Resources for Integrating Gender in CRVS