March 2005

Glossary:Gender related terms

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The idea of power is at the root of the term empowerment. Power must be understood as working at different levels, including the institutional, the household and the individual. Empowerment is sometimes described as being about the ability to make choices, but it must also involve being able to shape what choices are on offer. Empowerment corresponds to women challenging existing power structures, which subordinate women. As such, what is seen as empowering in one context may not be in another Empowerment is not about reversing existing power hierarchies but rather about empowering women and/or women's groups to make their own choices, to speak out on their own behalf and to control their own lives (Wieringa, 1994)

A process by which a strategy, issue, or relationship is studied and assessed in-depth. (IDRC, Outcome Mapping)

Feminism is a movement aimed at critiqueing and debunking patriarchal structures which promote male power and privilege. Its ideology is based on the principles of gender equality and social justice. It seeks to transform the world by mobilisation and resistance to women's oppression and advancing alternative ideals of justice and anti-sexism. The women's liberation movement, for example, was formed by women who adopted the idea that women were oppressed in the same way that colonised people were, therefore women needed to be freed from oppression, not just given equal rights.

Feminism also requires an understanding or recognition that rights of women should be equal to men. However, interpretations of what equality means differs across cultures, races, religions, ages, and genders. One of the challenges feminism faces are differences in feminist ideologies. Feminism is a multiple term and thus should be conceptualised as plural, in other words, Feminisms.

The term gender refers to culturally based expectations of the roles and behaviours of men and women. The term distinguishes the socially constructed from the biologically determined aspects of being male and female. Sex identifies the biological difference between men and women. Gender identifies the social relations between men and women. It therefore refers not to men and women but to the relationship between them, and the way this is socially constructed. Gender relations are contextually specific and often change in response to altering circumstances. (Moser 1993:230, from Navigating Gender); and; and

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 analysis is a valuable descriptive and diagnostic tool for development planners and crucial to gender mainstreaming efforts. The methodology and components of gender analysis are shaped by how gender issues are understood in the institution concerned. There are a number of different approaches to gender analysis.Gender and Development: Concepts and Definitions

Gender awareness (Gender consciousness)
This is the ability to identify problems arising from gender inequality and discrimination, even if these are not very evident on the surface, or are 'hidden' – i.e. are not a part of the commonly accepted explanation of what and where the problem lies.

Gender blindness
Gender-blindness refers to a failure to identify or acknowledge difference on the basis of gender where it is significant. It can be a person, policy, or an institution that does not recognise that gender is an essential determinant of the life choices available to us in society.(Parker 1993:74)

Gender budgets
A variety of processes and tools that attempt to assess the impact of government budgets, mainly at the national level, on different groups of men and women, through recognising the ways in which gender relations underpin society and the economy. Gender or women's budget initiatives are not separate budgets for women. They include analysis of gender-targeted allocations, such as special programmes targeting women; they disaggregate by gender the impact of mainstream spending across all sectors and services; and they review equal opportunity policies and allocations within government services. Ames et al, cited in Maclean, H., et. al. (2004). Globalisation, gender and health: Research-to-policy interface. Unpublished manuscript. A working paper prepared for the African online discussion forum, “Globalisation, Gender & Health” (January 26-February 10, 2004). Sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Institute of Gender and Health.

Gender disaggregated information
Information differentiated on the basis of what pertains to women and their roles, and to men and their roles.

Gender equality
Gender equality requires equal enjoyment by women and men of socially-valued goods, opportunities, resources and rewards. Gender equality does not mean that men and women become the same, but that their opportunities and life chances are equal. The emphasis on gender equality and women's empowerment does not presume a particular model of gender equality for all societies and cultures, but reflects a concern that women and men have equal opportunities to make choices about what gender equality means and work in partnership to achieve it. Because of current disparities, equal treatment of women and men is insufficient as a strategy for gender equality. Equal treatment in the context of inequalities can mean the perpetuation of disparities. Achieving gender equality will require changes in institutional practices and social relations through which disparities are reinforced and sustained. It also requires a strong voice for women in shaping their societies. DAC Definition (from fbe9852569 3b00831f31?OpenDocument) Source: DAC (Development Assistance Committee) Guidelines for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Co-Operation, Development Co-operation Guidelines Series, OECD, 1998. Internet address:

Gender equity
Gender equity means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities. In the development context, a gender equity goal often requires built-in measures to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages of women.

Gender gap
Gender gap is the observable (and often measurable) gap between women and men on some important socio-economic indicator (e.g. ownership of property, access to land, enrolment at school), which is seen to be unjust, and therefore presents the clear empirical evidence of the existence of a gender issue.

Gender mainstreaming
Gender mainstreaming implies assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, and ensuring that both women's and men's concerns and experiences are taken fully into account in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of all development activities. The aim is to develop interventions that overcome barriers preventing men and women from having equal access to the resources and services they need to improve their livelihoods.

A course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, business, party, or individual.

Practical gender needs
Needs women identify in their socially accepted roles in society. PGNs do not challenge, although they rise out off, gender divisions of labour and women's subordinate position in society. PGNs are a response to immediate perceived necessity, identified within a specific context. They are practical in nature and often concern inadequacies in living conditions such as water provision, health care and employment. See also Strategic gender needs. (Moser 1993: 230)

The oppression and/or exploitation of women based on gender.
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on gender. Like the other “isms,” sexism can be both personal and institutional.

An individual, group or organisation that has something to gain or lose from involvement in a project. Having a stake often implies an element of risk: standing to gain or lose something, and possibly having to make some sort of investment (not necessarily money), inorder to obtain benefits from a project. Stakeholders are not simply 'beneficiaries'. Those who stand to lose from a project are also stakeholders. (Moore et al. 1996:24)

Strategic gender needs
It defines the needs, which women identify because of their subordinate position in the society. They vary according to particular contexts, related to gender divisions of labour, power and control, and may include such issues as legal rights, domestic violence, equal wages, and women's control over their bodies. Meeting SGNs assists women to achieve greater equality and change existing roles, thereby challenging women's subordinate position. (Moser 1993:231)

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.

Gender and Development: Terms and Concepts Hazel Reeves and Sally Baden, Bridge 2000.



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