Contact Us | Sitemap
 You are here >> Skip Navigation LinksHome > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Q1. What is the difference between sex and gender?
- Q2. What are gender roles?
- Q3. What is gender mainstreaming?
- Q4. Why do we need to mainstream gender?
- Q5. What is the difference between gender equality and gender equity?
- Q6. What is Empowerment?
- Q7. What are practical and strategic gender needs?
- Q8. What is gender division of labour?
- Q9. Should there be gender division of labour in our society?
- Q10. What is the difference between Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD)?
- Q11. How are different policies categorised according to the level of gender integration?

Q1. What is the difference between sex and gender?

Answer: Sex refers to the biological differences, between men and women, such as women can give birth, and men provide sperm. While gender can be defined as the socially constructed roles, expected behavioural patterns, needs, responsibilities, rights and power differences that distinguish women from men.
Unlike Sex which is static, gender perceptions of male and female identities are based on cultural and historical factors, personal experiences and the socialisation process. Therefore they are dynamic and change over time and differ according to geographical location.
gender also refers to the web of cultural symbols, normative concepts, institutional structures and internalised self-images which, through a process of social construction, define masculine and feminine roles and articulate these roles within power relationships in the home, the workplace and community.

Q2. What are gender roles?

Answer: There are three broad types of gender roles:
1.Reproductive roles to sustain the household. All household and domestic tasks, including work involving child bearing and rearing, and the care of other family members and dependents
2.Productive roles to obtain an income. Work done for pay in cash or kind. It includes anything with a potential exchange value, whether for market or home use and
3.Community roles to sustain community tasks. Activities undertaken without pay at the community level in “free time”, to sustain the shared resources of the community

Q3. What is gender mainstreaming?

Answer: 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 development process. The goal of most National Gender Machineries, like the Gender Secretariat, is to facilitate stakeholders to routinely integrate the interests of women as well as men in all policies, programmes and activities.

Q4. Why do we need to mainstream gender?

Answer: The gender mainstreaming approach focuses on the fact that women and men have different life courses and therefore development policies have a different impact on them. The approach addresses these differences by mainstreaming gender into development planning at all levels and in all sectors. The ultimate goal of gender mainstreaming is to achieve gender equality and equity, however the approach focuses less on providing equal treatment for men and women (since equal treatment does not necessarily result in equal outcomes) and more on taking whatever steps are necessary to ensure equal outcomes. It recognises that the empowerment of women can only be achieved by taking into account the relationships between women and men.

Moreover gender equality is a basic human right and Government is obliged to meet this fundamental democratic principle which is articulated in our Constitution and many of the regional and international instruments we have adhered to.

Gender mainstreaming is a good governance issue, as in order for decisions made by the state to be viewed as credible and accountable, they must meet the gendered needs of the populace, as women and men both make up half of the population.

Q5. What is the difference between gender equality and gender equity?

Answer: Equality is rights-based, these approaches affirm that women and men have equal rights, enshrined in international standards and treaties and should have the same entitlements and opportunities by law. Gender equality refers to sameness or uniformity in quantity, amount and intensity of provisions made and measures implemented for men and women.

Equity means justice, so that resources are fairly distributed, taking into account the different needs of women and men, girl and boys. It is best used linked clearly to rights, as an outcome of gender equality. Gender equity refers to doing whatever is necessary to ensure equality of outcome in life and this takes into consideration the experiences of men and women.

Q6. What is Empowerment?

Answer: The concept of empowerment relates to the process of gaining control over the decisions and issues that affect one’s life. In particular, it means having representation in decision-making bodies and control over the distribution of resources. Sustainable empowerment requires that basic practical needs are met as well as higher strategic needs.

Q7. What are practical and strategic gender needs?

Answer: Practical gender needs arise from the conditions women experience because of the roles ascribed to them by society. Often, these needs are immediate and relate to their roles as mothers, homemakers and providers of basic needs.

Whereas strategic gender needs are those that need to be met to overcome the subordinate position of women to men in society. They relate to women’s empowerment and are long-term needs which address gender gaps. Such needs vary according to the economic, political, social and cultural context.

Q8. What is gender division of labour?

Answer: The term gender division of labour refers to the fact that generally women and men are allotted different work roles by society. These work roles are deeply discriminatory and despite cultural and socio-economic differences, women throughout the world tend to dominate in unpaid domestic work. Furthermore this discrimination in the home is carried through to the public sphere, where work requiring skills stereotyped as ‘female characteristics’ have been less valued. Gender stereotyping in the labour force and the education system has meant that a significant amount of women have remained confined to menial, low-skilled, low status and poorly-paid jobs while men tend to concentrate in higher status and better paid jobs.

Q9. Should there be gender division of labour in our society?

Answer: In all societies, men and women are assigned tasks, activities and responsibilities according to their sex. The gender division of labour varies from one society and culture to another, and within each culture, it also changes due to external circumstances and over time. In most societies gender power relations lean in favour of men, different values are ascribed to men’s tasks and women’s tasks.

The gender division of labour is a key tool of women’s oppression. However, the solution is not for women and men to swap jobs or for women to adopt male characteristics to the detriment of their natural biological life cycles. Rather the solution is for women’s and men’s work to be equally valued, once both sexes have equal opportunities to education, training and types of work. This has to include men’s increased work in the reproductive sphere, such as undertaking tasks for the household and caring for its members

Q10. What is the difference between Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD)?

Answer: Women in Development (WID) and Gender and Development (GAD) refer to two essentially different approaches to development.

The WID approach seeks to integrate women into the existing development process by targeting women’s specific needs and concerns and treating them as passive beneficiaries of programming. The focus is on how women must change to fit into an essentially ‘manmade’ world.

Whereas the GAD approach seeks to integrate gender awareness and competence into mainstream development, by addressing the larger inequities of unequal relations between the rich and the poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged and within that, the additional inequities that women face. It emphasises that development activities may affect women and men differently and calls for appropriate ‘gender planning’ to address them. It also calls attention to ‘outcomes’, and the need to take the necessary steps to ensure that the resulting conditions and outcomes are equitable, rather than being preoccupied with giving only identical treatment.

It is sometimes said that WID projects address practical gender needs, while GAD projects address strategic gender interests. The reality is more complex, since either approach may address both types of need. But the distinction between practical and strategic gender needs is a useful means of evaluating how far a particular policy or intervention may further gender mainstreaming goals.

Q11. How are different policies categorised according to the level of gender integration?

Answer: Gender-blind policies ignore the different socially determined roles, responsibilities and capabilities of men and women. It is based on information derived from men’s activities and/or assumes those affected by the policy have the same (male) needs and interests.

Gender-neutral policies are not specifically aimed at either men or women and are assumed to affect both sexes equally. They are appropriate to the realization of predetermined goals, which leave the existing division of resources and gender responsibilities intact.

Gender-specific policies recognise gender differences and targets either men or women, within existing roles and responsibilities.

Gender-redistributive policies seek to change the distribution of power and resources in the interests of gender equality.