Gender Equality Glossary
The UN Women Training Centre’s Glossary is an online tool that provides concepts and definitions with gender perspective structured according to the thematic areas of UN Women. It includes gender concepts as well as international conferences, agendas, initiatives and partnerships related to gender equality.
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An international agreement among nations. Such agreements may have different names: treaty, covenant, convention or pact.
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
CEDAW, which was adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, is also known as the international bill of rights for women. Currently, over 90% of the members of the United Nations are party to the Convention, making it the second most ratified convention, following the Rights of the Child.
CEDAW articulates the nature and meaning of sex-based discrimination and gender equality, and lays out State obligations to eliminate discrimination and achieve substantive equality. The Convention covers not only discriminatory laws, but also practices and customs, and it applies not only to State action, but also State responsibility to address discrimination against women by private actors. The Convention covers both civil and political rights (rights to vote, to participate in public life, to acquire, change or retain their nationality, equality before the law and freedom of movement) and economic, social and cultural rights (rights to education, work, health and financial credit). CEDAW also pays specific attention to particular phenomena such as trafficking, certain groups of women, such as rural women, and specific areas where there are special risks to women’s full enjoyment of their human rights, such as matters related to marriage and the family. CEDAW also specifies the different ways in which States Parties are to eliminate discrimination, including through appropriate legislation prohibiting discrimination, or positive action to improve the status of women.
Feminization of poverty
A series of phenomena within poverty affect men and women differently, resulting in poor women outnumbering poor men, women suffering more severe poverty than men, and female poverty displaying a more marked tendency to increase, largely because of the rise in the number of female-headed households. This set of phenomena has come to be termed the ‘feminization of poverty’.
Although the idea of the feminization of poverty has been questioned, it has pointed out the need to acknowledge that poverty affects men and women in different ways, and that gender is a factor — just like age, ethnic factors and geographical location, among others — which influences poverty and increases women’s vulnerability to it.
Source: United Nations Economic Commission of Latin America (ECLAC). 2004. Understanding poverty from a gender perspective. Women and Development Unit. Santiago, Chile.
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 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.
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 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-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.
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.
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.