Gender and Politics-Meaning
-It is ‘the relations between men and women, both perceptual and material.
Gender is not determined biologically, as a result of sexual characteristics of either women or men,
It is but is constructed socially
It is a central organizing principle of societies,
often governs the processes of production and reproduction, consumption and distribution
Gender is the expression of masculine and feminine roles of both men and women.
-Traditionally, gender has been used primarily to refer to the grammatical categories of "masculine," "feminine,"
-gender is the culturally shaped expression of sexual difference:
it is the masculine way in which men should behave and the feminine way in which women should behave.
-It is emphasized by Simon de Beauvoir that in this system woman is the Other: the kind of person whose characteristics are described by contrast with the male norm.
-The problem of gender has been found in the most areas of social,economical,historical,political,etc
Some terms related to the term gender
Gender roles are the ‘social definition’ of women and men. They vary among different societies and cultures, classes, ages and during different periods in history. Gender-specific roles and responsibilities are often conditioned by household structure, access to resources, specific impacts of the global economy, and other locally relevant factors such as ecological conditions (FAO, 1997).
Gender relations are the ways in which a culture or society defines rights, responsibilities, and the identities of men and women in relation to one another (Bravo-Baumann, 2000, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.).
International Telecommunication Union defines-
Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female and the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes. They are context/ time-specific and changeable.
Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a woman or a man in a given context. In most societies there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities.
Gender is part of the broader socio-cultural context. Other important criteria for socio-cultural analysis includes class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age.
What do we mean by "sex" and "gender"? World bankSometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term "gender", and how it differs from the closely related term "sex".
"Sex" refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.
"Gender" refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
To put it another way:
"Male" and "female" are sex categories, while "masculine" and "feminine" are gender categories.
Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.
Some examples of sex characteristics :
- Women menstruate while men do not
- Men have testicles while women do not
- Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not
- Men generally have more massive bones than women
- In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
- In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
- In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
- In most of the world, women do more housework than men
Gender 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).
Gender roles and expectations are learned.
They can change over time and they vary within and between cultures.
Systems of social differentiation such as political status, class, ethnicity, physical and mental disability, age and more, modify gender roles.
The concept of gender is vital because, applied to social analysis, it reveals how women’s subordination (or men’s domination) is socially constructed.
As such, the subordination can be changed or ended. It is not biologically predetermined nor is it fixed forever.
Sex describes the biological differences between men and women, which are universal and determined at birth.
Gender Analysis is the collection and analysis of sex-disaggregated information. Men and women both perform different roles. This leads to women and men having different experience, knowledge, talents and needs. Gender analysis explores these differences so policies, programmes and projects can identify and meet the different needs of men and women. Gender analysis also facilitates the strategic use of distinct knowledge and skills possessed by women and men.
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 is the result.
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 international cooperation agencies can support processes that can nurture self-empowerment of individuals or groups.
Gender Division of Labour is the result of how each society divides work among men and among women according to what is considered suitable or appropriate to each gender.
Strategic (Gender) Interests. Interventions addressing strategic gender interests focus on fundamental issues related to women’s (or, less often, men’s) subordination and gender inequities. Strategic gender interests are long-term, usually not material, and are often related to structural changes in society regarding women’s status and equity. They include legislation for equal rights, reproductive choice, and increased participation in decision-making. The notion of “strategic gender needs”, first coined in 1985 by Maxine Molyneux, helped develop gender planning and policy development tools, such as the Moser Framework, which are currently being used by development institutions around the world.
Gender-mainstreaming is a process rather than a goal. Efforts to integrate gender into existing institutions of the mainstream have little value for their own sake. We mainstream gender concerns to achieve gender equality and improve the relevance of development agendas. Such an approach shows that the costs of women’s marginalization and gender inequalities are born by all.
UN ECOSOC describes gender mainstreaming as “the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality”. (ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions 1997/2)
Literacy Gender Parity Index (GPI) is the ratio of the female to male adult literacy rates which measures progress towards gender equity in literacy and the level of learning opportunities available for women in relation to those available to men. It serves also as a significant indicator of the empowerment of women in society.
Gender and Politics
-It address when did women get political power and voting right.
- 1893 New Zealand
- 1902 Australia1
- 1906 Finland
- 1913 Norway
- 1915 Denmark
- 1917 Canada2
- 1918 Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia
- 1919 Netherlands
- 1920 United States
- 1921 Sweden
- 1928 Britain, Ireland
- 1931 Spain
- 1944 France
- 1945 Italy
- 1947 Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan
- 1949 China
- 1950 India
- 1954 Colombia
- 1957 Malaysia, Zimbabwe
- 1962 Algeria
- 1963 Iran, Morocco
- 1964 Libya
- 1967 Ecuador
- 1971 Switzerland
- 1972 Bangladesh
- 1974 Jordan
- 1976 Portugal
- 1989 Namibia
- 1990 Western Samoa
- 1993 Kazakhstan, Moldova
- 1994 South Africa
- 2005 Kuwait
- 2006 United Arab Emirates
- 2011 Saudi Arabia3
-In simple meaning the politics of gender is the question of women rights and women’s human rights
It is the question of women equality
The question of women justice
A question of women freedom
The oppression of women is inextricably bound up with the world system of sexploitation. Women bear the heaviest burden of national, economic, class, and religious oppression. They are often told their own liberation must wait for the attainment of the whole society’s liberation
In order to truly address political issues of gender we must consider some of the sex role stereotypes.
Some assumptions are widely made by societies.
Women are biologically unable to do certain work.
Women choose submissive roles and prefer to be dominated.
Women possess an essentially maternal instinct, primarily expressed in love for sons rather than daughters.
Women’s lives, roles and opportunities are circumscribed and limited.
Women are universally subordinate to men.
Women are comparatively powerless.
-Gender and politics discuss how women and men have different access to institutions of power and politics.
Why Men Rule: A Theory of Male Dominance, by Steven Goldberg, Ph.D. (1993)
Mythologies, Rolland Barthes An essay on “Toys”-
Pathriarchy- defines patriarchy as the occupation, by males, of the overwhelming percentage of upper heirarchical positions in political and other heirarchies.
Male dominance-Throughout human history, a disproportionate degree of political power around the world has been held by men . Even in democracies where the opportunity to serve in top political positions is available to any individual elected by the majority of their constituents, most of the highest political offices are occupied by male leaders.
-gender affects different facets of leadership, including how people lead and whether or not leaders are perceived as effective.
‘the personal is political’—feminists have sought greater access to institutional politics, and to reconstitute the political world.
While the concern of liberal feminism has been improving access for women to institutions of public power, through improved educational facilities, equal opportunities legislation, and anti-discrimination politics, and therefore challenging political patriarchy from within, other feminists, especially Marxists and radical groups, have challenged the very linking of the political to public. They believe that the reason why women have been systematically excluded from the political arena is because of the false distinction that has been made and sustained by patriarchy between the public and the private worlds. Feminists have also challenged the institutionalized, delegational form of politics in this context, emphasizing the importance of participation per se. Black feminists have contributed to the debate on politics by insisting upon the importance of race in Western societies, which does not allow them to participate in political life both as women and as black persons. Feminist groups have historically struggled with the question of making alliances with other groups. While some have wanted women's groups to be exclusive to women, others have sought alliances with men on specific issues affecting both sexes.
Sex, reproduction and child rearing do not preclude women from hard physical labor, complex commercial dealings, or artistic creativity.
Women of traditional societies are not acquiescent, subservient, and passive but are active, claim rights, and resent male dominance.
In traditional societies few alternatives are available to either males or female, although women are more contained in the domestic sphere.
The degree of subordination of women varies least in a small scale tribal societies.
Elizabeth Croll describes the evolving identities of women in China. China is a very large country and contains varying attitudes. The following poem in her book describes an attitude that has long been a part of China’s culture.
When a son is born
Let him sleep on the bed
Clothe him with fine clothes
And give him jade to play with
How Lordy his cry is!
May he grow up to wear crimson
And be the lord of the clan and the tribe.
When a daughter is born,
Let her sleep on the ground
Wrap her in common wrappings
And give her broken tiles for play things
May she have no faults, no merits of her own
May she well attend to food and wine
And bring no discredit to her parents (Croll, 32).
In short the politics of gender or gender politics address a wide variety of themes
It address how women and men as social categories find their place in society
It also address how the social role of both men and women come in disadvantages to women
It address the the place of women not only in politics
The problem of women is not only voting right issue
Women problems are largely power issues
The power issues of women are spread across a wide range of social landscape-literature,movies,business,technology,art and sculpture,agriculture,ideas,etc
In short gender and politics is an intellectual schoilarship which enquires the social and political position of women as a social category is placed
It investigates where is the women position in railway station,multiplexes,bus stand,coffee house,work sites,offices,etc
Gender and Politics: Nature of the theme
It is an area of intellectual enquiry that examines how gender and politics relate to each other
First wave feminism-
The first-wave of feminism began in the United Kingdom and the United States around the nineteenth century and lasted until the early twentieth century. The main focus of this movement at this time was on de jure inequalities, or officially mandated inequalities. There were many people during this time who were considered to be feminists, Mary Wollstonecraft, Susan B. Anthony, Lucy Stone, Olympia Brown, and Helen Pitts; there are countless more. Most people consider the first-wave to have ended when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed, granting women the right to vote. This major victory of the movement also included reforms in education, in the workplace and professions, and in healthcare. There arose a feeling of unfinished business left in the air, thus lead to the need for another era.
The second-wave of feminism refers to the period of feminism beginning in the early 1960's and extending through the late 1980's. Unlike the first-wave, the second-wave's focus was on the de facto inequalities, or unofficial inequalities, and also felt that de jure and de facto inequalities were inextricably linked issues that needed to be addressed together if there was ever going to be any hope of change. This wave encouraged women to understand aspects of their personal lives and deeply politicized, and reflective of a sexists structure of power. The key word of this wave was education, of women and of men.
There were several major moments during this wave, such as, The Feminine Mystique, hitting the shelves, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, Formation of National Organization for Women (NOW), the rise of radical feminism during the 1970's, Title IX in the Education Amendments of 1972 passed, the Feminist Sex Wars of the late 1970's and 1980's, and the Roe vs. Wade decision decided. There were also some key players in this wave such as Bella Abzug, Lorraine Bethel, Charlotte Bunch, Angela Davis, Andrea Dworkin, Jo Freeman, Betty Friedan, Michele Wallace, and Ann Simonton. Though there were many successes during this wave, there was an undeniable idea that the second wave had failed.
As a woman, I have no country. As a woman, I want no country. As a woman, my country is my world.
— Virginia Woolf (1882–1941)
Since there was this feeling of failure left throughout, the third-wave rose as a response to this felling, and in full force. It is also believed that this wave was in response to the backlash against initiatives and movements that were unexpectedly created by the second-wave. Again, with either of the two waves, there are important people we must consider, such as, Judith Butler, Martha Davis, Betty Dodson, Miranda July, Sandra Oh, and Molly Yard. Celebrity women have played a large role in informing the public, such as Sandra Oh, taking advantage of the fact that people look up to her, and therefore sharing her opinion and changing the minds of younger people.
Gender and Politics :Scope of the term
We will examine gender in the politics of personal identities, everyday activities, political participation, and social structures (language, media, education, religion, violence
gender, understood as a hierarchical, binary opposition of masculinity and femininity, and its intersection with power relations, understood as an expression of politics.
We will examine how gender categories are constructed and how they shape our identities, our ways of thinking (concepts, worldviews), and our ways of acting (divisions of labor, institutions).
We will examine how gender hierarchy is a system of differential power that intersects especially with ethnicity/race, class, and sexual orientation.
Gender and Politics :Importance of the term
-sensitize students and newer generation to social constructions of gender and their political implications;
-to explore the implications of "taking gender seriously" in our examination of "politics."
-reconceptualization of the nature of "politics" and our understanding of what constitutes political activity: --a broadening of what we deem "political”
-a matter of power relations
-once we take seriously how gender shapes who we are,
-how we think and act, and
-what “realities” we create.
-By examining power relations--politics--as gendered, the course illuminates 1) how the personal is politic
-how we participate individually and collectively in the production, reproduction, and legitimation of power relations (social hierarchies);
-how social hierarchies (of race, gender, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) are interrelated
-how reflective, critical analyses are essential for achieving nonhierarchical social relations
-and how social transformation occurs, is impeded, and promoted. Because gender identities are so fundamental, course topics have particular relevance and implications for our everyday lives
-women's issues, concerns, and participation are excluded from the public political arena because of the division between the private and public spheres, on the one hand, and the language and politics of universal political rights, on the other.
-feminists have challenged these constructs and have pointed out that the public and the universal have both historically been masculine in nature. Starting from Mary Wollstonecraft's concern with women's rights in the public sphere, shared in France by Condorcet and his wife Sophie de Grouchy, to the slogan of second-wave feminism—‘the personal is political’—feminists have sought greater access to institutional politics, and to reconstitute the political world. While the concern of liberal feminism has been improving access for women to institutions of public power, through improved educational facilities, equal opportunities legislation, and anti-discrimination politics, and therefore challenging political patriarchy from within, other feminists, especially Marxists and radical groups, have challenged the very linking of the political to public. They believe that the reason why women have been systematically excluded from the political arena is because of the false distinction that has been made and sustained by patriarchy between the public and the private worlds. Feminists have also challenged the institutionalized, delegational form of politics in this context, emphasizing the importance of participation per se. Black feminists have contributed to the debate on politics by insisting upon the importance of race in Western societies, which does not allow them to participate in political life both as women and as black persons. Feminist groups have historically struggled with the question of making alliances with other groups. While some have wanted women's groups to be exclusive to women, others have sought alliances with men on specific issues affecting both sexes.