Definitions

Gender Equality, UNESCO

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When you speak multiple languages, some things get lost in translation.
This can also be the case when you are speaking the same language.

Since I work in the gender equality division at UNESCO, I might use some words can have multiple meanings. I have provided some definitions for everyone so that they can understand exactly where I am coming from. Many of the terms I will use in this blog can be misunderstood, so, please look over these definitions to see what I mean. Context is key and hopefully this guide will help you form and clarify your own definitions.

DEFINITIONS

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Sex: The biological differences between men and women, which are determined at birth. That’s it (not talking about the act).

Gender: The roles and responsibilities of men and women that are created in our families, our societies and our cultures. The concept of gender also includes the expectations held about the characteristics, aptitudes and likely behaviors of both women and men (femininity and masculinity). For a deeper dive into the internal/external fluid concept of masculine and feminine (aside from normative gender) I encourage you to check out David Deida’s podcast on the subject.

Feminism: This definition seems to spark a lot of debate, however, it has always been very simple to me. I believe that feminism is simply, “the belief that men and women should have equal rights, opportunities and choice.” Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary also defines it similarly.

These two definitions below are the most commonly misunderstood. Equality and Equity are not the same. One of my mentor’s put it well in saying,“What’s fair isn’t always equal and what’s equal isn’t always fair.”

Gender Equity: Refers to targeted measures often needed to compensate for historical and social disadvantages that prevent women and men from otherwise being equals. These measures (temporary special measures), such as affirmative action, may necessitate different treatment of women and men in order to ensure an equal outcome. Equity leads to equality.

Gender Equality: The idea that Women and men enjoy the same status and have equal opportunity to realize their full human rights and potential to contribute to national, political, economic, social and cultural development, and to benefit from the results.