Statistics are a general good that serves everyone and anyone can use the obtained statistical data. On the other hand, the data represent an important basis for modern decision-making and management at all levels, serve to analyze the current situation and enable future micro and macro planning of the country’s development in all areas. In order to protect ourselves from erroneous and manipulative data, to avoid misunderstandings, to be able to make the right decisions, to protect the institution from mistrust and discredit, it is necessary for people who use the statistical data to know how to do it most correctly, respectively to be statistically literate.
In fact, that was the goal of the one-day training – “How to get gender-disaggregated data?”, organized by ZELS on May 26, 2022, at the ZELS Training Center, in cooperation with the State Statistical Office of the Republic of North Macedonia. The training was intended for the needs of the municipal coordinators for equal opportunities in order to upgrade the municipal capacities for proper use of the SSO databases in the field of gender statistics, to provide relevant analysis and research that will contribute to creating adequate decisions, plans and programs for ensuring equality between men and women at the local level.
The application of the statistical methodology is of great importance for the relevance of data
The representatives of the SSO introduced the participants to the activities of their institution and the areas of statistical research (demographic, social, economic and sectoral statistics: agriculture, energy, transport, environment and others), as well as the importance of statistics and statistical data. Special emphasis was put on the manner of conducting statistical research, data collection methods and the great importance of the application of statistical methodology. The methodology is a framework in which all important aspects of the research are defined: the purpose and significance of the research, content, legal basis of the research, units of scope, sample selection, time, manner, data collection technique, data protection, data processing, publishing and more. If an adequate methodology is not applied in the research, the relevance of the obtained data may be put into question.
SSO sent an open invitation to the municipalities for openness to provide consultations in the preparation of municipal research for the collection of relevant data
The representatives of the SSO appealed to all local self-government units that they are open to cooperation if the municipality wants to conduct a research to provide certain data, i.e. they will provide free consultations in terms of setting the questionnaire and determining the research methodology in order to obtain quality and relevant data. They also pointed out that if the municipality hires experts or other consulting institutions for the research, it is obligatory to ask them for a certificate issued by the SSO stating that the research will use an appropriate methodology approved by the Statistical Office. In that way, the municipality will gain solid research, and at the same time, the data can be considered relevant and used by other institutions for further processing.
Necessary cooperation of the institutions in the collection and dissemination of data
It was emphasized that in our country there are many parallel systems of data collection, which is a waste of energy and financial resources and therefore there is a need for more intensive and constructive cooperation between national and local institutions in terms of collection and dissemination of statistical data. On the other hand, cooperation with the SSO is crucial for providing usable data that will benefit all citizens and the state.
The priority of the SSO is to ensure the greatest possible use of statistical data
Regarding the importance of statistical literacy (SL), several definitions were given, including that SL is the ability to understand and critically evaluate the statistical results that affect our daily lives. It was also pointed out that the SL covers the understanding and use of the basic language and tools of statistics: the meaning of basic statistical terms, the understanding of simple statistical symbols, and the ability to interpret differently presented data. In this context, the SSO experts stressed that when searching statistical databases, it is very important for users to pay attention and time and read all the explanations given in the system and to be well acquainted with the meaning of given symbols.
Open statistical databases are provided, functional to use and simple to operate
It was emphasized that one of the priorities set by the SSO is not only the collection of data, but they are more and more aimed at ensuring their more intensive and mass use. In that regard, they pay attention to ensuring the increase of the level of statistical literacy among the users of the databases of the Office, especially the users from the state and public institutions. That is why they pointed out that they have provided functional databases that are open for everyone to access, and that are simple to operate. The user can process the data himself, make calculations that are relevant to his needs, receive information in the form of graphs, excel spreadsheets, aggregate data, can download the data to his computer, and provide their continuous updating. It was pointed out that such opportunities are provided especially by the MakStat database, which is simple to operate for users and has roughly 3,000 tables and 250 columns. It was emphasized that if the user uses the data in research or some records, he need compulsorily to emphasize the source from where they were taken, ie state that these are data taken from the State Statistical Office of RNM. All these explanations were accompanied by the representatives of the SSO continuously by directly presenting examples in the field of gender equality, which introduced the participants to the possibilities of using these statistical databases. The training was well accepted by the attendees, who requested such additional in-depth training, and at the same time suggested that it be presented to their colleagues from the departments for local economic development in the municipalities.