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.



Browse using this index

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P

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. 

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. 

Power

Power involves the ability, skill or capacity to make decisions and take action; physical force or strength. The exercise of power is an important aspect of relationships. The more power a person has, the more choices are available to that person. People who have less power have fewer choices and are therefore more vulnerable to abuse. When women’s movements, feminist groups and development organizations help people acquire “power” individually and collectively, they do not necessarily understand power in its traditional sense of domination or “power over.” Instead, they have agreed that there are several kinds of power involved in the empowerment process. These four dimensions are called: power over, power to, power with and power from within.

Power with: Social or political power which highlights the notion of common purpose or understanding, as well as the ability to get together to negotiate and defend a common goal (individual and collective rights, political ideas such as lobbying, etc.). Collectively, people feel they have power when they can get together and unite in search of a common objective, or when they share the same vision.

Power within: This notion of power refers to self-awareness, self-esteem, identity and assertiveness (knowing how to be). It refers to how individuals, through self-analysis and internal power, can influence their lives and make changes.