Concepts of Gender

Culture-The distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms which characterize the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society

Gender Analysis- The systematic gathering and examination of information on gender differences and social relations in order to identify understand and redress inequities based on gender

Gender Discrimination- The systematic, unfavorable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources

Gender Division of Labour- The socially determined ideas and practices which define what roles and activities are deemed appropriate for women and men

Gender Equality and Equity- Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere. Gender equity denotes the equivalence in life outcomes for women and men, recognizing their
different needs and interests, and requiring a redistribution of power and resources

Gender Needs- Shared and prioritized needs identified by women that arise from their common experiences as a gender

Gender Planning- The technical and political processes and procedures necessary to implement gender-sensitive policy

Gender Relations- Hierarchical relations of power between women and men that tend to disadvantage women

Gender Training- A facilitated process of developing awareness and capacity on gender issues, to bring about personal or organizational change for gender equality

Gender Violence- Any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions, which inflicts physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender

Intra-household Resource Distribution- The dynamics of how different resources that are generated within or which come into the household are accessed and controlled by its members

National Machineries for Women- Agencies with a mandate for the advancement of women established within and by governments for integrating gender concerns in development policy and planning

Patriarchy- Systemic societal structures that institutionalize male physical, social and economic power over women

Sex and Gender- Sex refers to the biological characteristics that categorize someone as either female or male; whereas gender refers to the socially determined ideas and practices of what it is to be female or male

Social Justice- Fairness and equity as a right for all in the outcomes of development, through processes of social transformation
WID/GAD- The WID (or Women in Development) approach calls for greater attention to women in development policy and practice, and emphasizes the need to integrate them into the development process In contrast, the GAD (or Gender and Development) approach focuses on the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women and emphasizes the need to challenge existing gender roles and relations

Women’s Empowerment– A ‘bottom-up’ process of transforming gender power relations, through individuals or groups developing awareness of women’s subordination and building their capacity to challenge it

Women’s Human Rights- The recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that women experience injustices solely because of their gender

Gender Mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming is an organizational strategy to bring a gender perspective to all aspects of an institution’s policy and activities, through building gender capacity and accountability. The 1970s strategies of integrating women into development by establishing
separate women’s units or programmes within state and development institutions had made slow progress by the mid- 1980s (See National Machineries for Women). In light of this, the need was identified for broader institutional change if pervasive male advantage was to be challenged.

Adding women- specific activities at the margin was no longer seen as sufficient. Most major development organizations and many governments have now embraced ‘gender mainstreaming’ as a strategy for moving towards gender equality. With a mainstreaming strategy, gender concerns are seen as important to all aspects of development; for all sectors and areas of activity, and a fundamental part of the planning process. Responsibility for the implementation of gender policy is diffused across the organizational structure, rather than concentrated in a small central unit.

Such a process of mainstreaming has been seen to take one of two forms. The agenda-setting approach to mainstreaming seeks to transform the development agenda itself whilst prioritizing gender concerns. The more politically acceptable integrationist approach brings women’s and gender concerns into all of the existing policies and programmes, focusing on adapting institutional procedures to achieve this. In both cases, political as well as technical skills are essential to a mainstreaming strategy.

Any approach to mainstreaming requires sufficient resources, as well as high-level commitment and authority. A combined strategy can be particularly powerful. This involves the synergy of a catalytic central gender unit with a cross-sectoral policy oversight and
monitoring role, combined with a web of gender specialists across the institution. The building of alliances both within the institution and with outside constituencies, such as women’s organizations, is crucial for success. Mainstreaming tools include gender training, introducing incentive structures which reward efforts on gender, and the development of gender-specific operational tools such as checklists and guidelines.

Rationale for Mainstreaming Gender

  1. Recognition that development policies impact female and male differently hence the need to ensure that the needs of both are taken on board during policy development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  2. The need of collective process of articulating a shared vision of sustainable human development and translating it into reality (through policy, programmes and budgets) hence the need for the effective participation of both women and men.
  3. Recognition of the need for a combined strategy to address women empowerment issues including selected focus of channeling assistance to women, as a target group, to a more mainstreaming approach of promoting gender equality as a development
  4. It is a commitment to ensure concerns and experiences of both women and men are integral to the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all legislation, policies and programmes
  5. It concerns the staffing, procedures, programmes and culture of development organizations
  6. Recognizes gender equality as critical to the achievement of other development goals including poverty reduction.

The affirmative Action
Affirmative action began as corrective for past governmental and social injustices against demographic groups that have been subjected to prejudice. Such groups are characterized most commonly by race, sex or gender, or ethnicity. Affirmative action seeks to
increase the representation of these demographic groups in schools, in work place, and in society in general. A certain group or gender may be less proportionately represented in an area, often employment or education, due predominantly, in the view of proponents, to past or ongoing discrimination against members of the group.

Rationale for Affirmative action
The theory is that a simple adoption of meritocratic principles along the lines of raceblindness or gender-blindness would not suffice to change the situation for several reasons:

  1. Discrimination practices of the past preclude the acquisition of ‘merit’ by limiting access to educational opportunities and job experiences.
  2. Ostensible measures of ‘merit’ might well be biased toward the same groups who were already empowered.
  3. Regardless of overt principles, people already in positions of power will be likely to hire people they already knew, and/or people from similar backgrounds.

In such a circumstance, proponents believe government action giving members of the group preferential treatment is necessary in order to achieve a proportionate distribution. From its outset, affirmative action was seen as a transitional strategy, with the intent that over some period of time- variously estimated from a generation to a century- the effects of past discrimination would be sufficiently countered that such a strategy would no longer be necessary: the power elite would reflect the demographics of society at large.

Affirmative action in Kenya in has mainly been on gender and earlier on for marginalized areas. Affirmative action in South Africa is designed to correct the systemic effects of discrimination created by Apartheid. Though affirmative action in the U.S. is primarily associated with racial issues, the American civil rights movement originally gave as its purpose the correction of a history of oppression against all working-class and low-income people, and women have figured as prominently as ethnic minorities among its beneficiaries.

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