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.

The glossary is also available in Spanish and in French.


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Heteronormativity

Heteronormativity is an expressed used to describe or identify a social norm relating to standardized heterosexual behavior, whereby this standard is considered to be the only socially valid form of behavior and anyone who does not follow this social and cultural posture is placed at a disadvantage in relation to the rest of society. This concept is the basis of discriminatory and prejudiced arguments against LGBT, principally those relating to the formation of families and public expression.

Source: LGBT Communication Manual, Brazilian Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transvestite and Transsexual Association and UNAIDS. 


Informal sector

The term informal sector refers to employment and production that takes place in small and/or unregistered enterprises. It includes self-employment in informal enterprises (small and unregistered enterprises) and wage employment in informal jobs (unregulated and unprotected jobs) for informal enterprises, formal enterprises, households or for no fixed employer.

Source: Hussmanns, Ralf. (2003) Statistical definition of informal employment: Guidelines endorsed by the Seventeenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians. International Labour Office: Geneva.


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Set for the year 2015, the MDGs are an agreed set of goals designed to respond to the world's main development challenges and to the calls of civil society. The MDGs represent a global partnership that grew out of the commitments and targets established at the world summits of the 1990s. The eight MDGs seek to promote poverty reduction, education, maternal health and gender equality and aim at combating child mortality, AIDS and other diseases. As 2015 approaches, consultations are underway to establish the Post-2015 Development Framework or Agenda, which will succeed the MDGs. 


Multiple discrimination

Concept used to describe the complexity of discrimination implicating more than one ground, also known as “additive,” “accumulative,” “compound,” “intersectional,” “complex bias” or “multi-dimensional inequalities.” Though the terminology may seem confusing, it tends to describe two situations: (1) situation where an individual is faced with more than one form of grounds-based discrimination (i.e. sex plus disability discrimination, or gender plus sexual orientation). In such circumstances, all women and all persons with disabilities (both male and female) are potentially subject to the discrimination. (2) Situation where discrimination affects only those who are members of more than one group (i.e. only women with disabilities and not men with disabilities), also known as intersectional discrimination. 

Regarding discrimination against women, CEDAW General Recommendation no. 25 recognizes the following: “Certain groups of women, in addition to suffering from discrimination directed against them as women, may also suffer from multiple forms of discrimination based on additional grounds such as race, ethnic or religious identity, disability, age, class, caste or other factors. Such discrimination may affect these groups of women primarily, or to a different degree or in different ways than men. States parties may need to take specific temporary special measures to eliminate such multiple forms of discrimination against women and its compounded negative impact on them.”

Sources:
Sheppard, Colleen. 2011. Multiple Discrimination in the World of Work, Working Paper no. 66. International Labour Organization: Geneva.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, General recommendation No. 25 on temporary special measures, article 4, paragraph 1. 


Patriarchy

This term refers to a traditional form of organizing society which often lies at the root of gender inequality. According to this kind of social system, men, or what is considered masculine, is accorded more importance than women, or what is considered feminine. Traditionally, societies have been organized in such a way that property, residence, and descent, as well as decision-making regarding most areas of life, have been the domain of men. This is often based on appeals to biological reasoning (women are more naturally suited to be caregivers, for example) and continues to underlie many kinds of gender discrimination. 


Transformational leadership

Transformational leadership enhances the motivation, morale, and performance of followers through a variety of mechanisms. These include connecting the follower's sense of identity and self to the project and the collective identity of the organization; being a role model for followers that inspires them and makes them interested; challenging followers to take greater ownership for their work, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses of followers, so the leader can align followers with tasks that enhance their performance.

Unlike traditional forms of “transactional leadership,” transformational leadership is not based on a "give and take" relationship, but on the leader's personality, traits and ability to make a change through example, articulation of an energizing vision and challenging goals. Transforming leaders are idealized in the sense that they are a moral exemplar of working towards the benefit of the team, organization and/or community.

Source: Sahil Bagga, Burns, J.M. (1978) Leadership. New York. Harper & Row.


Victim blaming

Victim-blaming’ exists to a certain degree with all forms of violence. In order not to question the safety of the world around us when we hear of a violent incident, we may examine the behavior of the victim and assure ourselves that if we avoid such risks and behavior (e.g. being out late alone, venturing into certain areas, leaving our door unlocked, dressing in a ‘provocative’ way) we will avoid violence. This natural act of psychological self-defense, however, focuses our attention on the perceived responsibility of the victim, and may neglect to fully question the conduct of the perpetrator. By shifting the blame to the victim in gender-based violence, the focus is on the victim, often a woman, and her behavior, rather than on the structural causes and inequalities underlying the violence perpetrated against her. 


Women’s political participation

Women’s political participation refers to women’s ability to participate equally with men, at all levels, and in all aspects of political life and decision-making. Women’s participation and access to formal political power structures vary across countries. There is a steady upward trend in women’s political participation and representation in developed countries particularly in Nordic countries. Out of twelve countries where women representation in parliament is more than 33%, nine of them are ranked in the high human development category. However, the improvements in medium and low human development countries are not significant. The structural and functional constraints faced by women are shaped by social and political relations in a society. The common pattern of women’s political exclusion stem from (a) social and political discourses (b) political structures and institutions (c) the socio-cultural and functional constraints that put limits on women’s individual and collective agency.

Source: Bari, Farzana (2005) Women’s Political Participation: Issues and Challenges. Division for the Advancement of Women (now part of UN Women).


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.


Post-2015 Development Agenda

The Post-2015 Development Agenda refers to a UN-led process that aims to help define the future global development framework that will succeed the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has established a UN System Task Team to support system-wide preparations for the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda. It comprises 60 agencies, as well as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In June 2012, it published the report “Realizing the Future We Want for All” which serves as an input to the work of the High Level Panel. Consultations are underway regionally, nationally and thematically with a broad range of actors. Regarding gender equality, debates center principally on whether to have a separate goal on gender equality, to ensure that gender is mainstreamed throughout all the goals, or both. 



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