Conceptualizing Gender Mainstreaming and Women Empowerment in the 21st Century

Conceptualizing Gender Mainstreaming and Women Empowerment in the 21st Century

Irene George, Moly Kuruvilla
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2819-8.ch001
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Gender mainstreaming is the globally accepted strategy for sustainable development. The concepts of women empowerment, gender mainstreaming, and sustainable development are illustrated in this chapter. Numerous strategies are proposed from different parts of the globe, but these strategies are contextual in the sense that those applicable and successful in one country may not prove to be effective in another country. Since gender operates in innumerable subtle ways and its implications vary with time and space, the gender mainstreaming strategies also would vary accordingly. Women do not represent a homogenous group, and hence, the question of intersectionality should be of prime importance while designing strategies for women empowerment. The inclusion of all genders including transgender and other sexual minorities also should be taken care of to ensure sustainable development. The new dimensions and the shift in focus required with regard to the existing strategies of women empowerment are discussed in the chapter.
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Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right but also a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. (Ki-Moon, 2015)


Concept Of Gender Mainstreaming

Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a means to achieve the goal of gender equality by ensuring that gender perspective is central to all activities - development, research, advocacy, dialogue, legislation, resource allocation and planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects. Whenever new programs or policies are formulated, their implications on the lives of men and women, their specific needs and requirements, whether both the groups will be equally benefitted or whether one group requires more inputs, and if so, the underlying reasons, whether more allocation of funds or relaxation is needed for one group etc are analyzed before making the final decision regarding the design and scope of any program. Since women have been discriminated and sidelined for centuries together, they need to be compensated for the past discriminations through gender mainstreaming, thus giving a special focus on women empowerment.

Gender mainstreaming is a concept focusing on establishing equality through policies and institutional practices. The concept of “mainstreaming” must be understood as opposite to “undercurrent” policies and practices, and it implies that the gender equality policies, procedures, and practices are built into the general policies, and not something remaining on the sidelines. Gender mainstreaming implies that gender equality policies and perspectives are integrated and mainstreamed (Faber et al., 2017).The general objective of gender policies is to achieve gender equality and equity in all sectors and at all levels, considering the link between gender and development (Guzura, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Gender Stereotypes: They are widely held images about men and women that cover their differential characteristics, roles, and responsibilities.

Gender: Gender is the sociological/ cultural definition of men and women that also connotes the power differences between men and women in all spheres of life.

Gender Analysis: Gender analysis is a tool to diagnose the differences between women and men regarding their specific activities, conditions, needs, access to and control over resources, and access to development benefits and decision-making.

Intersectionality: The concept first came from the legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989 and is largely used in Feminist theory. It discusses the overlap of various social identities contributing to the systematic oppression and discrimination experienced by women. It refers to the focusing on multiple inequalities based on class, caste, racial and ethnic origin, disability, age, religion, sexual orientation, etc. so that no one is missed out from the development agendas like resource allocation and policy formulations of gender mainstreaming.

Gender Division of Labor: Allocation of different roles, responsibilities and tasks to men and women based on societal expectations of what they should do and are capable of doing without taking into consideration individual preferences or capabilities.

Gender Equality: Gender equality means that the different behaviors, aspirations and needs of women, men and sexual minorities are considered, valued and favored equally.

Millennial: Denotes people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.

Baby Boomers: Persons born during a period of time in which there was a marked rise in a population's birthrate following the end of World War II, usually considered to be in the years from 1946 to 1964.

Gender Equity: It is the means to achieve the goal of gender equality, where there is fairness of treatment for women, men and sexual minorities, according to their respective needs.

Glass Ceiling: It is the invisible barrier (glass) through which women can see elite positions but cannot reach them (‘ceiling’). The artificial barriers based on attitudinal or organizational or socio cultural bias prevent qualified women from advancing upward in their organization into managerial positions.

Strategic Gender Needs: SGNs: are long-term needs related to the relative position or status of women to men in society. Strategic interests/needs include changes in the gender division of labor, equal wages and women's control over their own bodies, legal awareness, an end to gender based violence, etc.

Practical Gender Needs: PGNs are the immediate, concrete, and practical needs women need for survival. They are related to daily needs such as food, housing, children’s health, sanitary facilities etc.

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