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Gender Advocacy and Self-Awareness

DEFINITION OF TERMS SEX refers to the biological differences between a man and a woman. They are generally permanent and universal. GENDER identifies the social relations between man and women. It refers to the relationship between a man and a woman, boys and girls, and how this is socially constructed. Refers to the roles and responsibilities of men and women that are created in our families, our societies and our cultures. The concept of gender also includes the expectations held about the characteristics, aptitudes, and likely behaviours of both women and men (femininity and masculinity). These roles and expectations are learned. They can change over time and they vary within and between cultures. The concept of gender is vital because it facilitates gender analysis revealing how womens subordination is socially constructed. As such, the subordination can be changed or ended. It is not biologically predetermined nor is it fixed forever.

Gender Equality means that women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights
and for contributing to, and benefiting from, economic, social, cultural, and political development. Gender equality is, therefore, the equal valuing by society of the similarities and the differences of men and women and the roles they play. It is based on women and men being full partners in their home, their community, and their society.

Gender Equity is the process of being fair to men and women. To ensure fairness, measures must
often be put in place to compensate for the historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from operating on a level playing field. Equity is a means. Equality and equitable outcomes are the results.

Empowerment is about people both women and men taking control over their lives: setting their
own agendas, gaining skills, building self-confidence, solving problems, and developing self-reliance. No one can empower another: only the individual can empower herself or himself to make choices or to speak out. However, institutions including national and international cooperation agencies can support processes that can nurture self-empowerment of individuals or groups. Gender Awareness is an understanding that there are socially determined differences between woman and men based on learned behavior. Gender Sensitivity encompasses the ability to acknowledge and highlight existing gender differences, issues and inequalities and incorporate these into strategies and actions. Gender Mainstreaming is the process of ensuring that women and men have equal access and control over resources, development benefits and decision-making, at all stages of the of the development process and projects, programmes and policy. Gender Roles are learned behavior in a given society/community, or other special group, that condition which activities, tasks and responsibilities are perceived as male and female. These are affected by age, race, class, ethnicity, religion and by the geographical, economic and political environment.

GENDER NEEDS Two Kinds of gender needs: 1. Practical Gender Needs (PGN) are the needs women identify in their socially accepted roles in society. They are practical in nature and often concern inadequacies in living conditions such as water provision, health care and employment.

2. Strategic Gender Needs (SGN) are the needs women identify because of their subordinate position in a society, they vary according to particular contexts, related to gender divisions of labor, power and control, and may include issues such as legal rights, domestic violence, equal wages and womens control over their bodies.

SOME OF THE SITUATIONS IN WHICH WE SEE GENDER DIFFERENCES 1. SOCIAL different perceptions of womens and mens social role: the man seen as head of the household and chief-bread winner who deals with the public sphere; the woman seen as nurturer and care-giver who deals with the private sphere. 2. POLITICAL differences in ways in which women and men assume and share power and authority: men are more involved in national and higher level politics; women more involved at the local level activities linked to their domestic roles. Men have been using violence and weapons as tools to further their own power from family level upwards. 3. EDUCATIONAL differences in educational opportunities and expectations of girls and boys: family resources directed to boys rather than girls education; girls streamed into less-challenging academic tracks. 4. ECONOMIC differences in womens and mens access to lucrative careers and control of financial and other productive resources: credit loans, land ownership.

COMMON GENDER STEREOTYPES WOMEN Dependent Weak Incompetent Less important Emotional Implementers Housekeepers Fragile Passive Followers Nurturing Patient MEN Independent Powerful Competent More important Logical Breadwinners Brave Aggressive Leaders Doers Strong ambitious

WHAT IS GENDER AND WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT? Gender is not a major feature in many educational systems in the Asia-Pacific region, often because it is not well understood. Gender refers to the social roles, responsibilities and behaviours believed to belong to men and women; for example, men as income earners and women as child caregivers. Gender does not refer to the biological differences between males and females; the term sex covers this distinction. Gender roles are created by a society and learned from one generation to the next. Because gender roles are socially learned, they can be changed to achieve equity and equality for women and men. For instance, we can change the gender roles of women as child caregivers

to women as income earners, men as income earners to men as child caregivers, or, better yet, men and women as income earners and child caregivers. Government officials, teachers, parents, and often girls and boys themselves, may deny that they are biased in terms of gender, and they may be quite truthful that this is what they believe. It is difficult for people to see a problem when it has become a normal, ingrained part of their lives. But asking questions such as Are there alternatives to girls cleaning the classroom? or What would happen if boys did the cleaning, while girls moved the desks? can enable individuals to reflect, reconsider, and look more closely at their own assumptions. This way they can begin to see how traditional gender roles and norms affect what, and how, children learn. Gender Equality in Education Promoting gender equality in all areas of education is the means by which we can ensure not only that the basic needs of girls and boys are met, but that they have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and realize their human rights. Ensuring gender equality in education means girls and boys have equal opportunities to enter school, as well as to participate in and benefit from the range of subjects or other learning experiences offered in schools and classrooms. Through gender-sensitive curricula, learning materials and teaching-learning processes, girls and boys become equally equipped with the life skills and attitudes they will need to achieve their full potential within and outside of the education system, regardless of their sex. To achieve gender equality in learning we need to move away from seeing children collectively as students or pupils and to focus more on the specific situation of girls and boys within the classroom and the school. Where to promote gender equality Gender bias means unequal treatment, opportunities or expectations due to attitudes based on gender. Gender biases in teaching and learning settings are numerous and can be related to the subject being studied, materials used, or teacher-pupil interactions. They are especially present in:

the lesson core - through the curriculum, textbooks or examples used by teachers questioning - questions asked by girls and boys, types of questions asked of girls or boys, the level of questions asked, time allocated to answer a question etc. feedback - type given to girls and boys by teachers (positive or negative, judgmental, neutral, or enabling) tasks and responsibilities - through allocation to girls and boys discipline - the discipline techniques directed towards girls and boys language - is the language used by the teacher and pupils inclusive and free of gender biases or not utilization of materials and tools - are books, computers and calculators used by both girls and boys.

GENDER EQUALITY IN EDUCATION There is a tendency, when faced with limited resources, for families to accord higher priority to boys education than for girls.

Access to safe transport to and from school, especially if there is a significant distance to travel or general insecurity, can also affect attendance. Sexual harassment, inadequate physical facilities, inflexible timing of courses and lack of childcare services constrain girls and womens educational opportunities at all levels. Cultural, religious and social factors have a heavy influence on participation rates for girls in education.