You are here >>
Home > 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
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
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.