Gender Glossary


1. Principal Elements of the Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework






means arranged as a hierarchy - ranked one above the other, with the one above being more important than the one below. The five levels of the Women's Equality and Empowerment Framework are described as "hierarchical" because in some ways each "higher level is more important than the one below. For example, gender inequality in welfare is caused by gender inequality in access, which then raises the discussion to a more important and quite different level of discussion. These are five levels of analysis and not five stages of development process. Any development problem has these five dimensions within it, and a project must address gender issues progressively at these levels if women's development is to make progress.






is a term used in a very special way in the Women's Equality and Empowerment framework, to refer to the gender gap between women and men in their material well-being. Like the other levels of the Framework, it is an analytic category, so that the "higher" levels of empowerment are by definition excluded. If a project were confined entirely to this welfare level, this would mean that women would be passive recipients of project benefits, since they are not involved in the higher levels of empowerment which denote more active roles in the development process. Although lacking in any degree of empowerment, the welfare level is arguably the most important level, since narrowing the gender gap in welfare is the ultimate objective in women's development, to which the process of empowerment must lead.






is the means or rights to obtain services, products or commodities. The Women's Equality and Empowerment Framework identifies "access" as one the five levels of equality which are important in the process of women's development. Gender gaps in access to resources and services are one type of obstacle to women's development. Women's achievement of equality of access to resources and services as seen as an objective for women's equality, by the same token, women's mobilisation to achieve equality of access is an element of the process of empowerment.






means the process of becoming aware of the extent to which problems arise not so much from an individual's inadequacies, but rather from the systematic discrimination against a social group which puts all members of the system as a whole at a disadvantage. In women's development, conscientisation therefore involves the process by which women collectively analyze and understand the gender discrimination which they are up against. This is the basis for action to overcome and dismantle the obstacles which have been holding them back.

In the Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework, women's and men's conscientisation is seen as the crucial step in the process of empowerment. It is crucial to the process of development in general. Through conscientisation, both men and women come to understand the nature of the obstacles they face, and the need therefore to mobilise for collective action. The process of discussion and understanding of common problems is a critical phase, for it enables and motivates men and women to move from being mere beneficiaries to being actors and active participants in their own development. Conscientisation involves the identification of disparities and the analysis of their underlying causes.






in the general sense, means having a share, or taking part. The Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework uses this word to denote having a share and taking part in decision-making. We are therefore here defining the term "participation" in this active sense of having a say in how things are done, and in how resources are allocated. Merely to have a share in resources is not in itself participation in the sense that it is used to denote an empowerment level in the Framework. The Framework sees gender equality in decision making as one of the essential aspects of women's empowerment, and uses the word "participation" to denote this aspect of empowerment.






means the ability to direct, or to influence events so that one's own interests are protected. The Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework recognises women's equality of control with men as the most important or "highest" aspect of women's development - where women ensure that resources and benefits are distributed so that both women and men get equal shares. Whereas conscientisation and participation are essential to the process of women's empowerment, it is only gender equality in control which provides the outcome.




2. Principal concepts linked to the notion of gender






The term gender has now transcended its earlier "grammar-based" usage of classifying nouns as male, female and neuter. It is not used to describe the biological sexual characteristics by which we identify females and males but to encompass the socially defined sex roles, attitudes and values which communities and societies ascribe as appropriate for one sex or the other.

In this specific sense, it was first used as a phrase, "the social relations of gender", for which gender has become a kind of shorthand. The social relations of gender seeks to make apparent and explain the global asymmetry which appears in male/female relations in terms of sex roles in power sharing, decision-making, the division of labour, return to labour both within the household and in the society at large. The phrase directs our attention to all the attributes acquired in the process of socialization; our self and group definitions, our sense of appropriate roles, values and behaviours and, above all, expected and acceptable interactions in relationships between women and men.




Gender roles


are roles within which are classified by sex, where this classification is social and not biological. For example, if child-rearing is classified as a female role, it is a female gender role, not a female sex role since child-rearing can be done by men or women.




Sex roles


may therefore be contrasted with gender roles, since sex roles refer to an occupation or biological function for which a necessary qualification is to belong to one particular sex category. For example, pregnancy is a female sex role because only members of the female sex may bear children.




Gender role stereotyping


is the constant portrayal, such as in the media or in books, of women and men occupying social roles according to the traditional gender division of labour in a particular society. Such gender role stereotyping works to support and reinforce the traditional gender division of labour by portraying it as "normal" and "natural".




Gender division of labour


means an overall societal pattern where women are allotted one set of gender roles, and men allotted another set. Unequal gender division of labour refers to a gender division of labour where there is an unequal gender division of reward. Discrimination against women in this sense means that women get most of the burden of labour, and most of the unpaid labour, but men collect most of the income and rewards resulting from the labour. In many countries, the most obvious pattern in the gender division of labour is that women are mostly confined to unpaid domestic work and unpaid food production, whereas men dominate in cash crop production and wage employment.




Gender equality


means that there is no discrimination on grounds of a person's sex in the allocation of resources or benefits, or in the access to services. Gender equality may be measured in terms of whether there is equality of opportunity, or equality of results. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women can be understood as a statement on what the principle of gender equality of opportunity should mean in practice for all aspects of life, and all sectors of the economy.






means fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities. There has been a debate as to whether equality or equity should be the goals of empowerment and change. Equity also means "having a stake in" or "having a share of". It is , therefore an important component of equality. Technically equality before the law could and often does exist without those deemed to be "equal" really "having a stake in". However, because its meaning of equity has been seen to depend on the definition of fairness and justice it is often said to be a lesser term that equality. In addition, in its legal sense the term equity may suggest a limited notion of the concept of justice, since equity refers to justice within the existing law, rather than justice by changing the law. By contrast, the Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework follows the 1979 Women's Convention in defining justice for women in terms of gender equality.

The lack of definition in the term equity has led to the word being used in quite different ways. It can be used as a "stronger" word than equality, by those who recognize that women must demand more than equality with man in a man's world, and that gender equality must also entail the transformation to a different and more just society. On the other hand, equity can sometimes be used as a weak euphemism for equality by those who wish to avoid awkward issues or direct questions about equal rights for women.

The term "gender equity", as we see below, has come to have a more precise meaning.




Gender equity


An approach using gender equity is directed towards ensuring that development policies and interventions leave women no worse off economically or in terms of social responsibility than before the intervention. This approach tries to make equity visible by using indicators which reveal the human cost of many activities; provision of fuel. water, etc. This approach tries to ensure that women have a fair share of the benefits, as well as the responsibilities of the society, equal treatment before the law, equal access to social provisions; education; equal pay for work of the same value.

Gender equity, as a goal, requires that specific measurements and monitoring are employed to ensure that, at a minimum, programmes, policies and projects implemented do not leave women worse off than other sections of the population, in particular the men in their peer group and families.




Structural gender inequality


exists where a system of gender discrimination is practiced by public or social institutions. Structural gender inequality is more entrenched if it is maintained by administrative rules and laws, rather than by only custom and traditions.




Gender discrimination


means to give differential treatment to individuals on the grounds of their gender. In many societies, this involves systematic and structural discrimination against women in the distribution of income, access to resources and participation in decision making.




Gender sensitivity


is the ability to recognize gender issues, and especially the ability to recognize women's different perceptions and interests arising from their different social location and different gender roles. Gender sensitivity is often used to mean the same as gender awareness, although gender awareness can also mean the extra ability to recognize gender issues which remain "hidden" from those with a more conventional point of view. Bu here we define gender sensitivity as the beginning of gender awareness, where the latter is more analytical, more critical and more "questioning" of gender disparities.




Gender awareness


means the ability to identify problems arising from gender inequality and discrimination, even if these are not very evident on the surface, or are "hidden" - i.e. are not part of the general or commonly accepted explanation of what and where the problem lies. In other words, gender awareness means a high level of gender conscientisation.




Gender issues


arise where an instance of gender inequality is recognized as undesirable, or unjust. There are three aspects of gender issues, namely: gender gap, discrimination and women's oppression.




Gender analysis


means a close examination of a problem or situation in order to identify the gender issues. The Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework provides a way of unpacking the different aspects of gender issues in the development process, in order to make them more visible and easily recognizable. Gender analysis of a development programme involves identifying the gender issues within the problem which is being addressed and in the obstacles to progress, so that these issues can be addressed in all aspects of the programme - in project objectives, in the choice of intervention strategy and the methods of programme implemention.




Practical needs


Maxine Molyneux defines two types of "women's interest": practical interests and strategic interests. The term needs, rather than interests, is often used.

Practical needs are those needs which do not challenge the unequal structure of gender relations, divisions of labour or traditional balances of power but relate to the spheres in which women have primary responsibilities. These differ from women's special needs but may sometimes arise from them. Practical needs may differ according to the women's or group of women's social class, age and situation. They can vary from the needs for income to send children to school, weeding tools for agricultural work to pumps for water.

Both Kate Young and Caroline Moser have further developed Molyneux's thesis.




Strategic needs


Unlike practical needs, strategic needs arise out of an understanding and analysis of women's subordinate situation in society (conscientisation). Strategic needs are actions and strategies which are required to bring about stractural change and empowerment. These may also be variously expressed; a need for political and legislative reform to grant constitutional equality to women; reproductive rights; state accession to CEDAW; a political voice; action on violence against women.




Transformatory potential


The concepts of transformatory potential takes the discussion of practical and strategic needs one step further. It means that development interventions should be examined to see which intervention will have the most potential to radically transform lives.

Thus, transformatory potential can be used as a working tol to assess activities and interventions by the following criteria.

Will the activity, programme or strategy under consideration serve to increase the social status of the target group? Enhance their economic or personal empowerment? Increase their decision-making capacity?

To effect the above an aditional question would need to be asked: What would need to be added to this programme/activity to ensure that the activity was capable of assisting in such a transformation?




3. Other terms related to the development process seen from a "gender perspective"






is here used to mean both the improved material well-being (welfare) of people and the process by which this improved well-being is achieved. The concept of development also includes an element of equality - that material benefits from the development process should be fairly distributed, especially to benefit those most in need - the disadvantaged and the most vulnerable. Therefore the special interest in women's development arises because women are a majority amongst the most disadvantaged.






is an important element of development, being the process by which people take control and action in order to overcome obstacles. Empowerment especially means the collective action by the oppressed and deprived to overcome the obstacles of structural inequality which have previously put them in a disadvantaged position. The Women's Equality & Empowerment Framework sees empowerment as the goal, and at the same time, the essential process for women's advancement. It is the process by which women mobilize to understand, identify and overcome gender discrimination, so as to achieve equality of welfare, and equal access to resources.






is the ability of people to improve themselves out of their own resources, by their own efforts. But here the term is given the special - and common - meaning of people's advancement by their own efforts within the existing social structure. This meaning of self-reliance implies that development problems arise from inadequacies in people's present abilities and efforts, rather than from inadequacies in society, or from structural inequality. This definition enables us to make a useful distinction between "self-reliance" and "empowerment", where the latter means taking power in both the individual and social plans. Where women's development involves overcoming a social system of discrimination against women, it is inadequate to discuss the development process purely in terms of women's self-improvement or increased self-reliance; we need also to discuss women's collective action for increased empowerment.




Equality of opportunity


means that everybody has an equal chance, especially for equal access. In other words equality of opportunity means that there is no structural discrimination standing in the way of any individual or social group. Equality of opportunity for women would mean ending all gender discrimination.






of women's development entails addressing gender issues in all development projects and programme, irrespective of sector of type of project. Mainstreaming is therefore the very opposite of a strategy of segregating gender issues into separate "women's projects".

The terms "mainstreaming" is currently used in two rather different ways, depending on the user's perspective in women's development. For those who interpret women's development as being merely concerned with improving women's access to resources and productivity, the strategy of mainstreaming may be interpreted in the minimum or weaker sense of integrating gender issues by adding gender objectives to existing programmes. This involves some adaptation, but nor transformation of the development process.

By contrast, a stronger sense of the term mainstreaming is used by those who see women's development as being essentially concerned with women's participation and empowerment, to address issues of gender inequality. From this perspective, the mainstreaming of gender issues entails the transformation of the development process. UNICEF has an explicit policy on mainstreaming which embraces this stronger meaning of mainstreaming.






is the use of political power and domination to maintain an unjust system - which is for the benefit of the rulers, at the expense of the ruled. Such oppression may exist at the level of the state, the village, or the household. Therefore women's oppression refers to male domination used for the subordination and domestication of women.






is the male domination of ownership and control, at all levels in society, which maintains and operates the system of gender discrimination. This system of control is justified in terms of patriarchal ideology - a system of ideas based on a belief in male superiority and sometimes the claim that the gender division of labour is based on biology or even based on scripture.




Patriarchal resistance


is the present context, means the various ways patriarchal government or authority may try to stop women's collective action for an equal share in decision making, and equal control over the distribution of resources.






in these reading is used differently from "project", to mean a collection of projects with a larger developmental purpose than an individual project.






is here used to mean an organisation of people and resources over time, used to bring about planned and pre-determined change by the end of the project period, for the benefit of a well defined target group. A project provides a planned developmental intervention to meet a need, or to overcome a problem. A project is also concerned with women's development if it recognises gender issues as part of the problem, and addresses these issues as part of the overall project purpose.




Gender planning

means taking account of gender issues in planning. In development planning, it means that gender issues are recognised in the identification of the problem and addressed in development objectives.

Gender training

means providing people with formal learning experiences in order to increase their gender awareness. In the case of UNICEF staff, the overall purpose of training is to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to recognise and address gender issues in the programming process. At the contre of this learning process is conscientisation, involving the ability to recognise the underlying issues of gender inequality which forma pervasive obstacle to programme progress.

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