Over the recent past, the gender component has become an essential element in a majority of development interventions. More fundamentally, studies substantiate that gender is a category that is primarily constructed by society and created by culture to denote the concepts of man and woman. Besides, to a broader perspective, gender does not only relate to the features that characterize males and females but also constitutes things such as thinking, behavior and the actions that have been established for both men and women, by culture and society. This being said, gender relations act as the determinants of how equally men and women access, use and control specific resources but this has, however, been surrounded by questions on how gender equity, gender equality, and women empowerment differ from one another. This essay, therefore, sheds some light on what it means by these three terms with regard to the gender context.
To begin with, does equity always lead to equality? There seems to be a vast range of agreement between scholars who study the origin and the causes of gender inequality. Particularly, Unceta and Medrano (2010) contend that one of the primary causes of gender inequality is the division and the differentiation between people by gender, in most societies. Thus, in this regard, equality between men and women or rather gender equality is said to entail the concept that all human beings have equal chances to make liberal choices and to also develop their personal abilities without any limitations set by stereotypes and prejudices. Therefore, drawn from this context, (Elwer, Harryson, Bolin, and Hammarstrom (2013) argue that gender equity is the process of being fair to both men and women with regard to the access and use of the socially valued goods, resources, services, and opportunities. It is therefore evident that the sense of equity in the society leads to equality. However, this does not mean that men and women have to become the same but instead, this means that the provision of rights, opportunities, and resources should not depend on whether one is male or female.
In the same vein, does achieving gender equality require women empowerment? This has also been equally contended upon as the difference between gender equity and gender equality. However, according to studies, when the issue of gender inequality is discussed, it is the women who are more likely to be marginalized and disadvantaged. Although some certain societal norms tend to discriminate the man over the woman, it remains evident that women are more disadvantaged than their male counterparts. Therefore, women are by default, given a lower status in society and this means that for equality to be attained, there need to be provisions made to redress the existing inequality before women can take advantage of the opportunities provided. Therefore, this being said, gender equality primarily levels the playing field and to a broader perspective empowers the women.
Finally, how does society empower their women? Concerning societal values and norms, the issue of women empowerment essentially means providing equal status to women with regard to opportunities and freedom that a woman needs to develop herself. The United Nations, (2017) states that empowering women ensures that decision making done both at public and private levels, as well as access to opportunities and resources, are no longer weighted in favor of men. Thus, in a nutshell, understanding gender equality fosters a platform on which women are empowered, and both men and women are given the freedom to participate as equal partners in the society fully.
In conclusion, addressing the issues of gender equality, and women empowerment all relate to the need to address the many inequalities across the board. In this regard, both men and women should not only be given equal access to opportunities and resources but should also be provided with the means of benefiting from this equality, hence ensuring gender equity. With this, it is therefore evident that gender equity serves to level the playing field on which women are empowered and subsequently becomes an essential factor in achieving true gender equality.
Elwer, S., Harryson, L., Bolin, M., & Hammarstrom, A. (2013). Patterns of Gender Equality at Workplaces and Psychological Distress. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e53246. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053246
Unceta, A., & Medrano, C. (2010). Equality, equity, and diversity: Educational solutions in the Basque Country. Reno: Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada.
United Nations. (2017). UNECE Policy for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women: Supporting the SDGs implementation in the UNECE region (2016-2020).
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