Learn what gender and gender equality are, why they are important, and how you can advocate for gender equality in this UNITAR course.From the author:“What is gender and why is gender equality important? This UNITAR course defines gender and why gender equality is essential for a society that’s equitable for all. You will learn what it looks like to work and advocate for gender equality. This course is suited to young people and anyone interested in achieving an equitable society.”
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What is Gender and Why Gender Equality? Global Gender Disparity
Let's start with some questions...
In a sample of 141 countries over the period of 1981 to 2002, in societies with higher gender inequalities, it was found that natural disasters (and subsequent impacts) on average...
Globally, women and girls are over-represented among the poor. Women under age 40 are more likely to be poor than men.
Unequal access to and control over economic resources lie at the root of women’s poverty.
Gender inequalities in the labour market persist, largely due to occupational segregation and gender pay gaps.
It is very clear from this data that **gender inequalities do exist. ** In the following lessons, we will further explore why it matters so much to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment.
What is Gender and Why Gender Equality? What is Gender?
What are gender stereotypes? Are any of the statements below familiar to you? “Boys should not cry” “Boys are better at math and science” “Mothers are better at looking after their children” “Men are breadwinners and not caretakers” These statements are based on typical gender stereotypes. Let us see how we are commonly surrounded and influenced by gender stereotypes, in the next slide.
Gender Inequality Take a moment to read through the following examples of how gender stereotypes lead to inequality.
Cooking We think of “women” when we think of “cooking” as it is seen as part of women’s role to cook and feed the family as caretakers. On the contrary, there are less female professional chefs than male chefs.
Note the gender gap when the action becomes: paid or unpaid professional chefs vs unpaid care work productive work vs reproductive work
Breastfeeding vs feeding milk to a baby Breastfeeding is biological (determined by “sex”) and only women are able to breastfeed.
On the contrary, men can feed their babies by milk bottles, and hence there are no reasons to prevent men from taking care of their babies.
Managing the family There is often a rigid gender role given to men as breadwinners and women as caretakers, which leads to men having a stronger decision-making power within the family.
Context, place and time-specific Specific to ethnicity, culture, class, caste, sexual orientation, age, location. Not all women are the same, either.
Hierarchical Differences in tasks, responsibilities, behaviour, and assets of women and men (which are unequally valued) attribute greater importance to male activities and characteristics, creating unequal power relations.
Institutional Gender norms are taken up in the wider social system, in policies, legislations, and businesses, reinforcing gender roles and division of labour. They create a vicious cycle of gender inequality such as gender gaps in the labour market, gender pay gaps, women’s heavy burden of unpaid care work, lack of access to finance, etc.
Dynamic and time bound Gender relations change over time depending on changes in the surrounding social, economic, and physical environment.
Changeable Individual men or women and categories of people can change the gender hierarchy by empowering themselves.
What is Gender and Why Gender Equality? Why Gender Equality?
Why Gender Equality? There is a long history of actions taken to address women's human rights and advancing gender equality across the world. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (1979) Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995)
United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (2011)
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2015-2030 We'll learn more about the SDGs in another course.
Gender equality is about equal rights, responsibilities, opportunities and participation in decision-making It does not mean women should be the same as men, but that rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female. The interests, needs and priorities of both women and men are taken into consideration, therefore the diversity of different groups is recognised. Gender equality is not just a “women’s issue” but should concern and fully engage men and women. Through equal and substantial participation in decision making, women become agents of change. Gender equality is an investment for the next generation.
Gendered division of labour What is the household’s main source of earning? Who engages in what kind of labour? What are the division of roles in household care work (how many hours do each household members spend on household tasks)?
Access and control over assets, resources, and household decision-making power Who has access to and control over assets & resources? Who manages the day-to-day household finances? Who decides on large investments? Who takes out bank loans or seek financial support from relatives? Who has the land rights?
Gender norms on education Do the children go to school? What is their level of school, are there any differences between daughters and sons? If so, why?
Women’s autonomy and security Does the wife need to be accompanied by a male family member, to do shopping?
What is Gender and Why Gender Equality? Key Gender Definitions
In this course, we've covered a lot of key definitions relating to gender. This lesson is designed to help you understand and recognise the difference between these terms.
Unpaid Care Work Unpaid Care Work refers to all unpaid services provided within a household for its members, including care of persons, housework and voluntary community work. These activities are considered work because theoretically, one could pay a third person to perform them.
Which of these statements about the Gender Equality Approach are correct? Select all that apply
Gender Based Violence Gender Based Violence means any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and based on socially ascribed (gender) differences between females and males. The nature and extent of specific types of this harmful act 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
Easy reading with facts