The cause for gender equality is one that leaves many confused as to what it exactly en-tells. It is important to have a sound understanding of gender because of the unequal gender power relations that exist in most countries today as a result of cultural and social norms.
Women are often disadvantaged economically, politically, legally and socially, mostly due to lack of knowledge, poverty and environments that are not enabling for them to thrive. To help make the subject of gender a lot easier to understand, here are a few key terms and principles you must know, with leads from Patricia Made and Colleen Morna’s Diversity in Action…
Gender between women and men: This refers to a situation where women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full human rights and potential, and are able to equally contribute to the national, political, economic and cultural development and to benefit from the results.
Recognition of differences and inequalities among women: Women differ according to such factors race, disability, class, culture, religion, sexual orientation and geographical location.
Women’s rights are human rights: Women’s rights are part and parcel of human rights as enshrined in the Bill of Rights. These rights form part of the cornerstone of democracy.
Customary, cultural and religious practices are subject to the right to equality: This principle recognizes the right of all persons to enjoy and practice their religious and cultural beliefs. However, these practices should not discriminate on the basis of gender.
Affirmative action: This refers to corrective measures through programmes targeting women to redress the legacies of discrimination and subordination.
Economic empowerment of women: Refers to the capacity of women to access and control economic resources and make decisions for improving their quality of life.
Entitlement to the right of integrity and security of person: Women are entitled to the right to bodily and psychological integrity as enshrined constitutionally. This means that women have the right to security and to make decisions over their own bodies, including their reproductive rights.
Mainstreaming gender equality: This involves ensuring that gender is incorporated into all policies, programmes, laws and services delivered by municipalities.