Wednesday, 29 January 2020, 8:47 PM
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Glossary: Gender Equality Glossary
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Gender

Gender refers to the roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society at a given time considers appropriate for men and women. In addition to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, gender also refers to the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context/ time-specific and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context, as are other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis including class, race, poverty level, ethnic group, sexual orientation, age, etc.

Source: UN Women, OSAGI Gender Mainstreaming - Concepts and definitions

Gender (or sexual) division of labor

This is an important concept in basic gender analysis that helps deepen understanding about social relations as an entry point to sustainable change through development. The division of labor refers to the way each society divides work among men and women, boys and girls, according to socially-established gender roles or what is considered suitable and valuable for each sex. Anyone planning a community intervention needs to know and understand the division of labor and allocation of assets on a sex-and-age disaggregated basis for every community affected by development interventions. Within the division of labor, there are several types of roles:

  • Productive roles: Activities carried out by men and women in order to produce goods and services either for sale, exchange, or to meet the subsistence needs of the family.
  • Reproductive roles: Activities needed to ensure the reproduction of society’s labor force. This includes house work like cleaning, cooking, childbearing, rearing, and caring for family members. These tasks are done mostly by women.
  • Community managing role: Activities undertaken primarily by women at the community level, as an extension of their reproductive role, to ensure the provision and maintenance of scarce resources of collective consumption such as water, health care and education. This is voluntary unpaid work performed during “free” time.
  • Community politics role: Activities undertaken primarily by men at the community level, often within the framework of national politics. This officially-recognized leadership role may be paid directly or result in increased power or status.
  • Triple role:This refers to the fact that women tend to work longer and more fragmented days than men as they are usually involved in three different roles: reproductive, productive and community work.

Gender advisor

Responsibility for implementation of the gender mainstreaming strategy lies with the senior management in each United Nations entity, as clearly stated in the Letter from the Secretary-General to heads of all United Nations entities in October 1997. In many parts of the United Nations system Gender Advisor posts have been established to support management to undertake their roles in implementing gender mainstreaming.

Gender advisors promote and support gender-sensitive approaches to policy and program work within a given mission, office, team, etc. They provide strategic advice in planning and policy making processes, in coordination meetings and task forces, as well as through existing gender units or gender focal points. They may be responsible for strategies such as: advocacy and awareness raising; training and capacity building; monitoring and advising; evaluation and reporting; and technical advice and support. Their work often focuses as much on in-house operations as it does liaising with national and regional partners to ensure that gender issues are adequately addressed. 

Gender analysis

Gender analysis is a critical examination of how differences in gender roles, activities, needs, opportunities and rights/entitlements affect men, women, girls and boys in certain situation or contexts. Gender analysis examines the relationships between females and males and their access to and control of resources and the constraints they face relative to each other. A gender analysis should be integrated into all sector assessments or situational analyses to ensure that gender-based injustices and inequalities are not exacerbated by interventions, and that where possible, greater equality and justice in gender relations are promoted.

Source: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”.

Gender audit

A participatory gender audit is a tool and a process based on a participatory methodology to promote organizational learning at the individual, work unit and organizational levels on how to practically and effectively mainstream gender. A gender audit is essentially a “social audit”, and belongs to the category of “quality audits”, which distinguishes it from traditional “financial audits”. It considers whether internal practices and related support systems for gender mainstreaming are effective and reinforce each other and whether they are being followed. It establishes a baseline; identifies critical gaps and challenges; and recommends ways of addressing them, suggesting possible improvements and innovations. It also documents good practices towards the achievement of gender equality. A gender audit enhances the collective capacity of the organization to examine its activities from a gender perspective and identify strengths and weaknesses in promoting gender equality issues. It monitors and assesses the relative progress made in gender mainstreaming and helps to build organizational ownership for gender equality initiatives and sharpens organizational learning on gender. The International Training Centre of the ILO offers a certification process for gender auditors.

Source: ILO (2008) ILO Participatory Gender Audit: A tool for organizational change. Geneva.

Gender blindness

This term refers to the failure to recognize that the roles and responsibilities of men/boys and women/girls are assigned to them in specific social, cultural, economic, and political contexts and backgrounds. Projects, programs, policies and attitudes which are gender blind do not take into account these different roles and diverse needs. They maintain the status quo and will not help transform the unequal structure of gender relations.

Source: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”.

Gender discrimination

Gender discrimination is defined as: “Any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on the basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.” [United Nations, 1979. ‘Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women’. Article 1]

Discrimination can stem from both law (de jure) or from practice (de facto). The CEDAW Convention recognizes and addresses both forms of discrimination, whether contained in laws, policies, procedures or practice.

De jure discrimination
E.g. In some countries, the law states that women (citizens) who marry foreign men lose their citizenship and/or property rights. On the other hand, men (citizens) married to foreigners do not lose their citizenship and/or property rights.
De facto discrimination
E.g. The practice of many immigration officials in various countries is to find a woman traveling alone with her minor children "suspicious" while men traveling with their children are seldom questioned.

Source: Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

Gender diversity

Gender diversity is a term that recognizes that many peoples' preferences and self-expression fall outside commonly understood gender norms.

Source: Gender Spectrum, Understanding Gender

Gender equality (Equality between women and men)

This refers to the equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women and men and girls and boys. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. Gender equality implies that the interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, recognizing the diversity of different groups of women and men. Gender equality is not a women’s issue but should concern and fully engage men as well as women. Equality between women and men is seen both as a human rights issue and as a precondition for, and indicator of, sustainable people-centered development.

Source: UN Women, OSAGI Gender Mainstreaming - Concepts and definitions

Gender equity

The preferred terminology within the United Nations is gender equality, rather than gender equity.Gender equity denotes an element of interpretation of social justice, usually based on tradition, custom, religion or culture, which is most often to the detriment to women. Such use of equity in relation to the advancement of women has been determined to be unacceptable. During the Beijing conference in 1995 it was agreed that the term equality would be utilized.

This was later confirmed by the CEDAW committee in its General Recommendation 28: “States parties are called upon to use exclusively the concepts of equality of women and men or gender equality and not to use the concept of gender equity in implementing their obligations under the Convention. The latter concept is used in some jurisdictions to refer to fair treatment of women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment, or treatment that is different but considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities”.

Sources: UN Women, OSAGI Gender Mainstreaming - Concepts and definitions; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (2010), General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

Gender focal point

 
 

Gender focal points are change agents whose overriding role is one of advocating for increased attention to and integration of gender equality and women’s empowerment in his or her agency’s policy and programming and in the related work of development partners. Gender focal points serve as a hub for new information on gender equality and as a conduit for information on what has worked well in the organization. The role of gender focal points differs somewhat from country to country and agency to agency, depending on where she or he is placed within the organization and what kind of gender architecture the organization has in place. A gender focal point is not, however, intended to serve as a substitute for a full-time institutional gender specialist. The focal point’s role is often more one of advocacy and facilitating communication and connections related to gender equality and women’s empowerment, but may at times involve providing gender expertise or assisting colleagues and development partners to identify potential national or international consultants or organizations that have this expertise. Basic functions may include: coordinating the organization/office/program gender mainstreaming strategy; contributing gender information and technical support for inclusion of gender issues; supporting capacity development on gender equality within the organization; knowledge management; and coordination on interagency initiatives, among others. ​

 Source: UN Women and ITC-ILO. 2013. Blended course for UN System Gender Focal Points.

 

Gender gap

The term gender gap refers to any disparity between women and men’s condition or position in society. It is often used to refer to a difference in average earnings between women and men, e.g. “gender pay gap.” However, gender gaps can be found in many areas, such as the four pillars that the World Economic Forum uses to calculate its Gender Gap Index, namely: economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment.

Source: See Hausmann, Ricardo, Laura D. Tyson, Saadia Zahidi, Editors (2012). "The Global Gender Gap Report 2012". World Economic Forum, Geneva, Switzerland.

Gender identity

Gender identity refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond to the person’s physiology or designated sex at birth. It includes both the personal sense of the body, which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical, or other means, and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, and mannerisms.

Sources: UNFPA and Promundo (2010). Engaging Men and Boys in Gender Equality and Health. A Global toolkit for action; UNAIDS (2011). UNAIDS Terminology Guidelines.

Gender inequality index (GII)

In 2010, the UNDP developed a new index for measuring gender disparity, called the Gender Inequality Index (GII). This index is a composite measure which shows the loss in human development due to inequality between female and male achievements in three dimensions: (1) reproductive health, (2) empowerment, and (3) the labor market. The index ranges from zero, which indicates that women and men fare equally, to one, which indicates that women fare as poorly as possible in all measured dimensions. The new index was introduced in the 2010 Human Development Report as an experimental measure to remedy the shortcomings of the previous, and no longer used, indicators, the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM), both of which were introduced in the 1995 Human Development Report. According to the index, there is no country in the world where women are equal to their men. In other words, gender equality remains a distant reality still.

Source: UNDP, Gender Inequality Index

Gender mainstreaming

Gender mainstreaming is the chosen approach of the United Nations system and international community toward realizing progress on women’s and girl’s rights, as a sub-set of human rights to which the United Nations dedicates itself.  It is not a goal or objective on its own.  It is a strategy for implementing greater equality for women and girls in relation to men and boys. 

Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programs, in all areas and at all levels. It is a way to make women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.

Sources: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”, ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2

Gender norms

Gender norms are ideas about how men and women should be and act.  We internalize and learn these “rules” early in life. This sets-up a life-cycle of gender socialization and stereotyping. Put another way, gender norms are the standards and expectations to which gender identity generally conforms, within a range that defines a particular society, culture and community at that point in time. 

Source: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”.

Gender parity

Gender parity is another term for equal representation of women and men in a given area, for example, gender parity in organizational leadership or higher education. Working toward gender parity (equal representation) is a key part of achieving gender equality, and one of the twin strategies, alongside gender mainstreaming.

Gender perspective

The term ‘gender perspective’ is a way of seeing or analyzing which looks at the impact of gender on people's opportunities, social roles and interactions. This way of seeing is what enables one to carry out gender analysis and subsequently to mainstream a gender perspective into any proposed program, policy or organization.

Gender relations

Gender relations are the specific sub-set of social relations uniting men and women as social groups in a particular community, including how power and access to and control over resources are distributed between the sexes. Gender relations intersect with all other influences on social relations – age, ethnicity, race, religion – to determine the position and identity of people in a social group. Since gender relations are a social construct, they can be transformed over time to become more equitable.

Gender roles

Gender roles refer to social and behavioral norms that, within a specific culture, are widely considered to be socially appropriate for individuals of a specific sex. These often determine the traditional responsibilities and tasks assigned to men, women, boys and girls (see gender division of labor). Gender-specific roles are often conditioned by household structure, access to resources, specific impacts of the global economy, occurrence of conflict or disaster, and other locally relevant factors such as ecological conditions. Like gender itself, gender roles can evolve over time, in particular through the empowerment of women and transformation of masculinities.

Source: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”.

Gender stereotypes

Gender stereotypes are simplistic generalizations about the gender attributes, differences and roles of women and men. Stereotypical characteristics about men are that they are competitive, acquisitive, autonomous, independent, confrontational, concerned about private goods. Parallel stereotypes of women hold that they are cooperative, nurturing, caring, connecting, group-oriented, concerned about public goods. Stereotypes are often used to justify gender discrimination more broadly and can be reflected and reinforced by traditional and modern theories, laws and institutional practices. Messages reinforcing gender stereotypes and the idea that women are inferior come in a variety of “packages” – from songs and advertising to traditional proverbs.

Gender-based Violence (GBV)

GBV is an umbrella term for any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and that is based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between females and males. The nature and extent of specific types of GBV vary across cultures, countries and regions. Examples include sexual violence, including sexual exploitation/abuse and forced prostitution; domestic violence; trafficking; forced/early marriage; harmful traditional practices such as female genital mutilation; honour killings; and widow inheritance.

Source: UNICEF, UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women. “Gender Equality, UN Coherence and You”.

There are different kinds of violence, including (but not limited to) physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, and socioeconomic violence.

  1. Physical violence: Physical violence is an act attempting to or resulting in pain and/or physical injury. It includes beating, burning, kicking, punching, biting, maiming, the use of objects or weapons, or tearing out hair. At its most extreme, physical violence may lead to femicide, or the gender-based killing of a woman. Some classifications also include trafficking and slavery in the category of physical violence because initial coercion is often experienced, and the young women and men involved end up becoming victims of further violence as a result of their enslavement.
  2. Verbal violence: Verbal abuse can include put-downs in private or in front of others, ridiculing, the use of swear-words that are especially uncomfortable for the other, threatening with other forms of violence against the victim or against somebody or something dear to them. Other times the verbal abuse is related to the background of the victim, insulting or threatening her on the basis of religion, culture, language, (perceived) sexual orientation or traditions.
  3. Sexual violence: Sexual violence includes many actions that are equally hurtful to every victim and are used similarly in the public and private sphere. Examples include rape (sexual violence including some form of penetration of the victim’s body), marital rape and attempted rape. Other types of forced sexual activities include being forced to watch somebody *****, forcing somebody to ***** in front of others, forced unsafe sex, sexual harassment, and, in the case of women, abuse related to reproduction (forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced sterilization).
  4. Psychological violence: Psychological violence can include, for example, threatening behaviors that do not necessarily involve physical violence or even verbal abuse. It can include actions that refer to former acts of violence, or purposeful ignorance and neglect of the other. Psychological violence may also be perpetrated through isolation or confinement, withholding information, disinformation, etc.
  5. Socio-economic violence: Socio-economic violence is both a cause and an effect of dominant gender power relations in societies. Some of the most typical forms of socio-economic violence include taking away the victim’s earnings, not allowing her to have a separate income (forced ‘housewife’ status, working in the family business without a salary), or making her unfit for work through targeted physical abuse. In the public sphere this can include denial of access to education or (equally) paid work (mainly to women), denial of access to services, exclusion from certain jobs, denial of the enjoyment and exercise of civil, cultural, social, or political rights.

Gender-neutral, Gender-sensitive, and Gender transformative

The primary objective behind gender mainstreaming is to design and implement development projects, programs and policies that:

  1. Do not reinforce existing gender inequalities (Gender Neutral)
  2. Attempt to redress existing gender inequalities (Gender Sensitive)
  3. Attempt to re-define women and men’s gender roles and relations (Gender Positive / Transformative)

The degree of integration of a gender perspective in any given project can be seen as a continuum (adapted from Eckman, 2002):

Gender Negative Gender Neutral Gender Sensitive Gender Positive Gender Transformative

Gender inequalities are reinforced to achieve desired development outcomes

Uses gender norms, roles and stereotypes that reinforce gender inequalities

Gender is not considered relevant to development outcome

Gender norms, roles and relations are not affected (worsened or improved)

Gender is a means to reach set development goals

Addressing gender norms, roles and access to resources in so far as needed to reach project goals

Gender is central to achieving positive development outcomes

Changing gender norms, roles and access to resources a key component of project outcomes

Gender is central to promoting gender equality and achieving positive development outcomes

Transforming unequal gender relations to promote shared power, control of resources, decision-making, and support for women’s empowerment

Source: UN-INSTRAW (now part of UN Women), Glossary of Gender-related Terms and Concepts

Gender-responsive budgeting

Gender-responsive budgeting or GRB is a method of determining the extent to which government expenditure has detracted from or come nearer to the goal of gender equality. A gender-responsive budget is not a separate budget for women, but rather a tool that analyzes budget allocations, public spending and taxation from a gender perspective and can be subsequently used to advocate for reallocation of budget line items to better respond to women’s priorities as well as men’s, making them, as the name suggests, gender-responsive. 

Glass ceiling

The term “glass ceiling” is a metaphor that has often been used to describe invisible barriers (“glass”) through which women can see elite positions, for example in government or the private sector, but cannot reach them (coming up against the invisible “ceiling”). These barriers prevent large numbers of women and ethnic minorities from obtaining and securing the most powerful, prestigious, and highest-paying jobs in the workforce.

Global care chains

This is a concept used to describe the ways in which care responsibilities are transferred from one household to another, across national borders, forming chains. As individuals move, work in the care sector is internationalized. Through these chains, households in different places around the world are interconnected, as they transfer care giving tasks from one household to another based on power hierarchies such as gender, ethnicity, social class, and place of origin. Global care chains are a phenomenon which is taking place within the context of globalization, feminization of migration, and the transformation of social welfare states. Chains are formed when women migrate to work in the care sector (domestic work, personal healthcare services, etc.), while transferring care work in their own households in origin and sometimes in destination to other women. 

Sources: Orozco, Amaia. (2009) Global care chains: Toward a rights-based global care regime? Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic: UN-INSTRAW (part of UN Women); Petrozziello, Allison. (2013) Gender on the Move: Working on the Migration-Development Nexus from a Gender Perspective. Santo Domingo: UN-WOMEN.