To read this content please select one of the options below:

Gender Politics in Latin American Censuses: The Case of Brazil and Ecuador

Gender and Practice: Knowledge, Policy, Organizations

ISBN: 978-1-83867-388-8, eISBN: 978-1-83867-387-1

Publication date: 22 November 2019


Population censuses collect socio-demographic and economic information regularly and in an institutionalized manner. The decision of what topics to include in their questionnaires reflects political priorities, but also it is a materialization of symbolic power (Bourdieu, 1991; Loveman, 2005). Gender practices – including budgeting, policy-making, implementation and monitoring of programs – depend significantly on census results. Understanding the institutional dynamics of public statistics sheds light on structural obstacles to exercise gender rights. To study this phenomenon, the authors look at the last century of the Brazilian and Ecuadorian censuses. The research provides a better understanding about the process of including or rejecting questions related to gender, specifically the arguments used in the process of selecting questions. Brazil and Ecuador were chosen because of the different profiles of each of their statistical institutions. The Brazilian institute, IBGE, is a larger, stable and semi-autonomous statistical office; Brazil has conducted population censuses since the nineteenth century. The Ecuadorian institute, INEC, is a smaller and more politically dependent statistical office; it has conducted population censuses since 1950.

Using archival analysis within the questionnaires and interviewing key demographers, activists and statisticians in both countries, the authors argue that the presence or absence of gender questions in the Brazilian and Ecuadorian censuses is historically and politically contingent. In contrast to the dominant narrative that suggests that changes in the vision of public statistics is correlated with the modernization of the state, it appears that the statistical visibility of gender issues in each society does not follow a linear path.



Thome, D. and Villacís, B. (2019), "Gender Politics in Latin American Censuses: The Case of Brazil and Ecuador", Segal, M.T., Kelly, K. and Demos, V. (Ed.) Gender and Practice: Knowledge, Policy, Organizations (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 28), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 119-140.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited