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Gender as a System Renu Khanna June 30 2013. What is Gender? u Gender refers to how society ascribes meaning to what it means to be a man or a woman in.

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Presentation on theme: "Gender as a System Renu Khanna June 30 2013. What is Gender? u Gender refers to how society ascribes meaning to what it means to be a man or a woman in."— Presentation transcript:

1 Gender as a System Renu Khanna June

2 What is Gender? u Gender refers to how society ascribes meaning to what it means to be a man or a woman in that society. u Gender is ascribing differential value to what male and what is female. u Gender is different from sex which refers to the biological differences between males and females.

3 Certain beliefs in society about men and women (eg men are strong, women are weak, men are rational, women are emotional) Defining different gender norms which govern the behaviour of men and women in society (e.g. men can express themselves, men can be articulate, women must not express themselves or be articulate)

4 Different gender norms Define different gender roles for men and women (e.g. men must be breadwinners, women must be carers, nurturers) Sexual division of labour (Productive for men – earning income/wages Reproductive for women – caring, nurturing social reproduction; Community leadership for men e.g. Sarpanch. Informal leadership without public or formal recognition for women (e.g.. dai, wise woman))

5 Sexual division of labour Different activities and tasks for men and women (womens tasks undervalued and invisible, eg cooking, cleaning, womens work fragmented, public domain for men, private for women) Differential Access to and control over resources (Resources like money, land, technology, knowledge, self esteem, time, space).

6 Differential Access to and control over resources Differential decision making and Power Those who make decisions and have power are the ones who influence social beliefs and gender norms for behaviour, sexual division of labour, and access to and control over resources.

7 Thus, this is a system which feeds on its subsystems and perpetuates itself. The beauty of the system is that it can be broken anywhere – either by changing social beliefs, or by changing norms for behaviour of men and women, or by changing the work that men and women are supposed to do, or in the allocation of resources. Thus it can be said that gender constructs can be changed over time, over space, over contexts.

8 How gender works as a system Beliefs in society Gender norms Gender roles for men and women Sexual division of labour Different activities and tasks for men and women Differential Access to and control over resources Differential decision making and Power

9 Other related concepts u Gender Relations – relations between different Gender Roles u Gender operates at different levels, in all institutions (e.g. family, health system, legal frameworks, other formal and informal institutions, market)

10 Intersectionalities u Gender is one of several axes of power and discrimination – others being class, caste, ethnicity, race, location, ability, sexuality etc.


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