“Gender plays a crucial role in the development of societies and nations worldwide. From being a marginalised concept, it is being mainstreamed as a dynamic concept in day-to-day operations of international institutions and policymakers.”
Gender is a wide concept. It is not limited to boys and girls, but rather has a variety of identities covered under its wide spectrum. Gender is defined by the psychological, behavioural and cultural traits that are associated with one’s sex, reflecting the dynamics of its terminology. Sex, on the other hand, is limited to the biological differences of genital. The roles and responsibilities of a person in a society lead to the formation of what is called ‘gender identity’.
According to the World Health Organisation, “Gender is often termed as the attributes, activities, opportunities, behaviors, and roles that any society considers appropriate for a girl and boy or men and women.” Surprisingly, society divides gender into binary categories of biological sex. However, gender cannot be limited to a binary; it is more than a biological differentiation. Gender identity refers to the person’s perception of having a particular kind of gender that may or may not synchronise with their sex at the time of birth.
Gender expression refers to the physical expressions that a person outwardly shows, concerning a person’s gender identity. Gender equality and equity often converge with factors that lead to marginalisation, discrimination and inequality. These factors can be socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability, geographic location, and so on.
Gender equality refers to the ease of access to opportunities and resources by a person, including decision-making, equal economic participation, and valuing different aspirations and needs irrespective of gender. According to Forbes, ‘Gender equity’ refers to the fairness of treatment of men and women according to their basic needs. The treatment under gender equity can be equal or differential with regard to obligations, rights, benefits, and opportunities of a person.
Gender often has implications on a person’s health because of the course of the concerning person’s life, their relations, and societal norms. A person can be ready to risk health because of their gender, and the fear that is associated with its revelation. Gender often leads to an increase in a risk-taking attitude among people. This is because there is a feeling of being different or slightly deviated from the concrete norms of society.
Gender can make a person vulnerable to diseases and health complications, as there is a gap in communication with healthcare providers. Gender can also affect a person’s access to services and products. People who are diverse in their gender identity are often subject to discrimination and social stigma. These stigmas and traumas can often lead to mental health disorders.
Fifty eight gender options have been identified by ABC News. Some of them are: Androgynous, Bi-gender, Cisgender, Female to Male, Gender Fluid, Gender Non-Conforming, Non-binary, Trans Female, Trans Male, Transmasculine and Transsexual amongst others.
Gender mainstreaming is the process of improving the quality of services, public policies, projects and programmes for all genders. The process is also an understanding of the implication on people from different genders, and acknowledging the needs of people from different strata and identities of society. Gender mainstreaming requires some concrete principles to function without malfunction and discrimination.
Gender mainstreaming requires gender-sensitive language, which means using proper pronouns and nouns to identify individuals with their chosen pronouns and nouns. Data collected by concerned authorities or programme managements should always have equal representation for all genders. It should be ensured that the utilisation of services and equal access is priority.
Equal representation of all genders is one of the most important aspects of gender mainstreaming. It is also important that gender budgeting and quality management are integrated with the process of policymakers and programme managements. Systematic steering and gender-specific analysis and management are necessary ideals of gender mainstreaming.
‘Gender needs and planning’ acknowledges the fact that different genders in the population have different needs. Different groups of men and women also have different levels of access to resources in society. Gender has a wider heterogeneous population, and policymakers and stakeholders cannot ignore the fact that each section in the big plethora of genders has different opportunities, unequal access to resources, and different constraints.
‘Gender and development’ is a wide concept, and the ideas and schools of thought that it displays is infinite. The wider the concept, the narrower is the treatment of society towards a section of people that has a varied kind of gender. Women from different countries and religions in the world face barriers to information related to health. The cultural gender norms of societies in different parts of the world have rigid barriers and cultural gender norms.
Women face a lack of economic independence and strong patriarchal foundations. Men are also surrounded and constricted by the fabricated gender norms of society. Indian society expects unrealistic conduct of behaviour by men. The Indian subcontinent expects men to be so strong that they suppress their emotions. They are asked to be as strong as a rock. The high expectations of society make many men ignore their health-related problems. It is very disheartening to accept the fact that men are also human beings, but society doesn’t treat them like one.
Saudi Arabia recently lifted the ban on women’s travel and driving. Many Islamic and Middle East countries have a wide range of restrictions on women. They are not allowed to spend time with men who are not closely related to them. Women are also subject to a limitation on the amount of makeup they wear. They are required to show their skin as limited as possible; they have to wear long cloaks and head scarfs when they move out of their house. In Saudi Arabia, girls are not even allowed to change clothes in changing room, because the sight of a disrobed women is something a man cannot handle, as stated by a Vanity Fair writer.
In Indian households, women are overburdened with responsibilities and household chores. Men are overburdened with financial needs and expectations of the society as well as the household. It is astonishing to know that in times of the pandemic, people are helping each other regardless of their culture, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. There have been many sightings where transgender folks were seen serving food to the poor and needy.
Women are getting empowered in our society, but the process is still slowly; there is a long way for them to go. Homosexuals, non-binary and transgender individuals still face the brunt of archaic norms of society.