Key Concepts

In the previous article, we gave a brief introduction to some of the topics we will discuss in the course. This article will focus on the topic ‘key concepts’ from the course outline of gender across cultures. This is the foundation of the course which basically highlights the important definitions and theories formulated by well-known researchers.  These approaches tend to organize and enlighten the audience coming from different backgrounds to understand the depth of the course with tranquility.

Women in Development-key concepts

This approach was one of the earliest approaches brought into consideration by leading developers and researchers. This approach has its focus on inculcating more women into development policy and practice. This approach emphasizes the need to integrate women into development.

This hypothesis evolved in the early 1970s. This emerged when people started to identify women as passive beneficiaries in the development process. People also started to realize that to achieve systematic and methodical development women must be desegregated into the political and development system. This is mainly done to ensure an effective and efficient means of bringing out the best in people.

However, this approach tends to build on the idea of women’s subordination. This idea revolves around using up women’s skills but as subordinates to men who are leading. Although women are inculcated into the working process, leadership is usually still in the hands of men.

The problems addressed by the approach of women in development are practical needs. These include creating income-generating and employment opportunities and improving access to credit and education.

Gender and Development-key concepts

‘Gender in development’ came out as a product of the frustration amongst women due to a lack of progress of the WID policy in changing women’s lives and influencing their productive role. Gender and development focus on the socially constructed bias of differences between men and women and then moves forward to emphasize the need to challenge existing thought.

Focusing on the broader development agenda, this approach focuses on the strategic needs of both the genders challenging existing biases thought. This approach in contrast to WID focuses on women in isolation and identifies the imbalance of power is the major problem to be dealt with.

The strategic needs focus on empowering women alongside challenging their subordination and marginalization.  This involves a re-division of labor to limit the discriminatory policies towards one gender.

Women’s Empowerment- key concepts

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Women empowerment is a bottom-up process that involves transforming and evolving power relations. This is done through thorough awareness of women’s marginalization and subordination. The policies that celebrate women’s empowerment build on their capacity to challenge existing norms.  Women empowerment does not mean to take over positions already held by men, but it tends to transform the general working capabilities of women so that they can also hold a position similar to that of men.

This is the concept of power, to understand and realize the power within oneself, or usually termed self-confidence.  Moreover, it is also defined as the power with, defined as the capacity to organize with others towards a common purpose. The final clause of power is the power to, referred to as the ability to effect change and take decisions.

The ultimate goal of women empowerment is to enable women to critically think and help transform or shape society as active agents. The focus of women in development initially was to gauge the monetary benefits women bring to the economy. However, soon the discrepancies within the WID approach were visible as it failed to change the power relations between men and women.

Gender Blind- key concepts

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Gender blind is a state or condition where one fails to realize the differences genders hold. The people who stick to this ideology tend to ignore or disregard the different gender dimensions. They fail to understand that women and men have been brought up differently in societies and have different needs that must be addressed.

Gender Awareness- key concepts

Gender awareness is the complete opposite of being gender blind. This recognizes the fact that life experiences and expectations of men and women are distinct. This realizes both genders do not have the same access to opportunities and they must be dealt with differently.

Gender Relations- key concepts

‘Gender relations’ is another key concept defined as the hierarchical relations between men and women that tend to disadvantage one gender. These relations are generally accepted as natural, however, they are manmade and subject to societal norms/cultures ingrained within society. These relations are evident in many areas of living such as workplaces, the division of labor and resources, and gendered ideologies, such as ideas of acceptable behavior for women and men.

Gender Discrimination- key concepts

Gender discrimination is defined as the systematic, unfavorable treatment of individuals based on gender denying their rights and opportunities. Across the globe, women are treated unfairly because of their gender. They are seen as lesser of being just because of their gender. They often face discrimination in workplaces and institutional spheres. Discrimination can take any form. Examples include gender wage gaps and minimal promotion opportunities.

Gender discrimination, in some extremes, may lead to the preference of having sons. This may lead to abortion and a small female population. Comparatively in the labor market, women have to undergo problems like unequal pay, exclusion, and segregation. Women’s lack of representation gives rise to these issues and forms a cycle of inequality in the labor market. However, having the same number of men and women is common in some industries and is referred to as gender balance.

Gender Division of Labor- key concepts

These are the socially acceptable ideas and practices deemed appropriate for both men and women. Opposite to contrary belief, these roles are socially constructed by the society itself. These roles and activities are prescribed to both men and women. Household chores are generally designated to women whilst the role of the being the sole breadwinner is gifted to the man.

Gender Sensitization- key concepts

The last key concept is referred to as ‘gender sensitization.’ This refers to the modification of pre-set standards and behavior to accommodate gender equality concerns. This comes with deep understanding of both genders or generally being gender aware. It is about instilling empathy in oneself and about the ideas people hold about you and the other sex.

Also Read; Gender Across cultures