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Gender and Reproductive Health

Gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female in a particular social setting at a particular point in time.

Sex refers to that biological and physiological attributes which identifies a person as male or female.

Gender equality basically refers to the equal treatment of women and men in laws and policies, and providing both equal access to resources and services within families, communities and society at large.

Gender equity refers to fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men. It often requires women-specific programmes and policies to end existing inequalities.

Gender discrimination refers to any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of socially constructed manipulated gender roles and norms which prevents a person from enjoying full human rights.

Gender stereotypes refer to beliefs that are so ingrained in our consciousness that many of us think gender roles are natural and we don’t question them.

Gender analysis is a research tool that helps policy makers and program managers appreciate the importance of gender issues in the design, implementation, and evaluation of their projects.

Gender bias refers to a gender based prejudice; assumptions expressed without a reason and are generally unfavorable a particular sex.

Gender mainstreaming: The incorporation of gender issues into the analysis, formulation, implementation, monitoring of strategies, programs, projects, policies and activities that can address inequalities between women
and men.

The Social Construction of Gender: This has to do with the people involved; Family members, peers, teachers and people in educational and religious institutions. They are usually the first to introduce a child to appropriate codes of gendered behavior.

Place: This often corresponds to the kinds of people involved. The home or family for example, at play, in school or in church for peers, teachers and adults in general.

Division of labour: The kind of household chores that girls are expected to do compared to boys; girls work inside the home and boys outside; girls work for others in the home, for example cooking, washing dishes, cleaning the house and washing clothes; boys are sent out on errands; girls do things for boys like serving food, cleaning up after them and doing their washing; boys in some cultures are asked to escort girls in public.

Dress codes: Across cultures, girls and boys are expected to be dressed differently right from the moment they are born. These differences may vary across cultures and societies.

Physical segregation of boys and girls: In many cultures and certain religion, especially in Asia, physical segregation starts at an early age. Common experiences often include, being told not to play with members of the opposite sex, or not to get involved in any activity that will bring one into physical contact with people of the opposite sex.

The kinds of games girls and boys play: Girls are not encouraged to play games like football, which involve vigorous physical activity and physical contact with each other; boys are often not allowed to play with dolls or play as homemakers. Boys who do not engage in rough physical games are thought to be “sissies”.

Emotional responses: Girls and boys are expected to respond differently to the same stimulus; in some cultures and religion, while it is acceptable for girls to cry, it is seen as a weakness in boys.

Intellectual responses: There are expectations that girls are not to talk back or express their opinions in certain traditions and religion. This is often mentioned in relation to school and how teachers pay more attention to boys since they expect more from boys. In one training program as reported by Ethiopian ministry of health in a researched carried out by The University of Gordon, Ethiopia. A participant from Japan told the story of how, when she obtained the highest marks in class, her teacher called her and asked her to agree that instead he would give the highest marks to the boy who came second. He explained that it would not be good for the boy to come second and the boys would not treat the girl well if she did better than them.

Class, caste, ethnic and other differences; explore how differences across class, caste, ethnicity and nationality affect how girls and boys are expected to behave. For example, the physical segregation of boys and girls may not be as strict in other parts. However, generally these discrimination are there and they do exist either passively or actively in our societies, and in a way they have such a negative effect on REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH.

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