Publications Summary

Document Type
Occasional Papers
Publication Topic(s)
Recommended Citation
Balian, Sarah M., Blake Zachary, and Kerry L.D. MacQuarrie. 2024. Collecting Diverse Data on Gender and Sexuality in DHS Surveys: An Overview. DHS Occasional Papers No. 15. Rockville, Maryland, USA: ICF.
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Publication Date
March 2024
Publication ID


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has long been a champion of gender equality and in recent years have updated their policies to recognize that sex disaggregation in a binary does not fully reflect the populations being served. In 2023, USAID released their first ever LGBTQI+ inclusive development policy which raises awareness of individuals with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC) and commits USAID toward inclusive leadership in development, expansion of precise data collection, partnership with local communities, and inclusive crisis response. Since 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) have set ambitious targets with the aim of leaving no one behind. To ensure that the SDGs are achieved by all, the United Nations (UN) has repeatedly recommended improvements in data disaggregation by SOGIESC status. The USAID funded Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program, begun in 1984, works closely with various UN agencies, along with other major funders, to support National Statistical Offices in the collection of demographic and health data. Governments then use these data to set policy, track programs, and monitor progress towards the SDGs. The DHS Program has collected diverse SOGIESC data through household surveys for the past twenty years. This paper provides an overview of existing recommendations and guidance on collecting SOGIESC data, as well as how SOGIESC data are standardly collected in DHS surveys, a review of DHS surveys which have collected more diverse SOGIESC data, and key considerations for collecting diverse SOGIESC data in DHS surveys.


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