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Gender Issues......

 
 
Did it ever strike you why this happens?

What is Gender?

Difference between Sex and Gender Are women biologically weaker than men?

How does gendering take place?

Some Specific Gender Issues

What do the terms gender sensitivity and gender sensitization mean?

Need for gender sensatization

 

Women are the very foundation of society, and the fulcrum around which the family's welfare revolves. We owe it to them and to the well being of our future generations to protect and promote their reproductive rights.

Gender based inequities permeate almost every aspect of the growing girl's social and cultural environment. For the average Indian child, the values and norms that define and often disparage the role of women significantly aggravate the privations of poverty.]

A girl's childhood years are crowded with domestic chores and the sense of worthlessness, helplessness and dependence.

A large number of little girls are allowed to die because of malnutrition and disease that are either not treated or treated inadequately.

The high maternal mortality in the South East Asian countries is primarily due to the neglect of women by society. Among the health service related factors, poor coverage and quality of antenatal care, lack of trained assistance during delivery, lack of access to essential emergency obstetric services for high risk & complicated cases, and lack of referral and transport system are major reasons.

Did it ever strike you why this happens?

Worldwide 3 to 4 million women are battered each year?

Battered women are12 times more likely to commit suicide than other women?

One in every 6 woman becomes the victim of rape in industrialized countries?

Girls in developing nations receive less nourishment and suffer from malnutrition more than boys

Globally, 40% to 60% of known sexual assaults were committed against girls 15 years or younger regardless of region or culture
(UNIFEM Global Video Conference Information Kit ,1999 )

South Asia has only 94 women for every 100 men (instead of 106 women to 10 men as in the rest of the world), leaving 74 million women simply missing?
(Human Development Report, 1997)

What is Gender?

Everyone is born male or female and our sex can be determined simply by looking at our genitalia. But every culture has its ways of valuing men and women and assigning them different roles, responsibilities and attributes. Gender refers to the socio-cultural definition of men and women, the way societies distinguish them and discriminate between them. All the social and cultural packaging that is done for girls and boys right from birth onwards is gendering.

Difference between Sex and Gender

Sex

Gender

Sex is natural

Gender is socio cultural. It is man made.

Sex is biological. It refers to visible differences in genitals and related differences in anatomy and procreative functions

Gender is socio-cultural and refers to masculine and feminine qualities, behaviour patterns, roles and responsibilities etc.

Sex is universal.

Gender is culture specific and hence variable.

But it is quite difficult to establish what is natural and what is socially constructed because, the process of gendering begins as soon as a child is born or perhaps even before that.

In many south Asian cultures, the birth of a son is celebrated, the birth of a daughter is bemoaned. Sons are showered with love, respect, better food, and better health care. Boys are also encouraged to be tough and outgoing, girls are encouraged to be docile and demure.
It is gender not sex that has determined that almost everywhere, women as a group are considered inferior to men. They enjoy fewer rights, control fewer resources, work longer hours than men, and find their work is either undervalued or underpaid. They face violence at the hands of men and society. They have little decision making power in social, economic & political institutions.

Are women biologically weaker than men?

Biologically speaking, men are the weaker sex. The Y chromosome (found only in men) is responsible for many diseases and handicaps. Ashley Montagu in "The Natural Superiority of Women" highlights the fact that there are 62 specific diseases that are largely or wholly due to sex linked genes. Most of these are found mostly in males. About half of them are serious & include haemophillia , mistral stenosis and some forms of mental deficiency . At every stage of life, beginning with conception, more male death rates are higher than those of females. More males are produced and the two facts of greater mortality and greater production seem to go hand in hand .

How does gendering take place?

This happens through a process of socialization. Socialisation is an ongoing Process that transforms a biological human being into a person. In certain cultures, it is noticed that even the welcome given to a new born child is different based on the sex. Besides many other things that a person learns during the process of socialization children also learn their gender roles. Girls learn to be shy, demure, pretty and delicate and boys learn to be rough and tough. This proces is called gendering or gender indoctrination. Statements like "A woman's heaven lies at the feet of her husband." or "Unlucky is the man whose cow dies - lucky is the man whose wife dies." abound in our culture.

Some Specific Gender Issues:

Nutrition:
According to research evidence, especially from anthropological studies, girl infants are breastfed less frequently, for shorter duration, and over shorter duration than boys.
Weaned earlier, young girls often do not get the required quantities of supplementary food. Discrimination against female children in the quality and quantity of food has been studied in Tamil Nadu and Punjab. It is prevalent in many other parts of the country. Male children receive larger quantities of cereals, fats, milk, sugar and fruits than females.
Results of studies conducted in the three metropolitan cities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras showed that a higher proportion of girls were moderately / severely malnourished as compared to boys.

Health:
Nearly 23 per cent of all births in India occur to adolescent mothers in the age group of 15 to 19 years. The complications and deaths during pregnancy and delivery of adolescent mothers are known to be twice that of the women who become mothers after the age of 20 years.
Adolescent girls show higher rates of anaemia and stunting than boys of the same age almost all across the country.
It is estimated that a woman dies every five minutes as a result of a complication attributable to pregnancy and childbirth in India. It is also estimated that for every woman who dies, there are as many as 30 other women who develop chronic, debilitating conditions that seriously affect the quality of their lives.
Many women in India suffer from STIs and RTIs, but do not get treatment for these due to a sense of embarrasment. In a study conducted among women in two villages in Maharashtra, the prevalence of clinically diagnosed RTIs was 46 per cent of the women surveyed. In other studies conducted in four different sites (rural West Bengal and Gujarat, and urban Baroda and Mumbai), the prevalence of RTIs ranged from 19 to 71 per cent. Another study in rural Karnataka, over 70 per cent women was clinically diagnosed with RTIs. In all these cases, it was found that many of the women did not know about the illnesses beforehand, despite symptoms.

Health Care:

Malnutrition, frequent pregnancies and infections contribute to a high maternal mortality ratio in India, estimated at 407 maternal deaths per 100,000 births in 1997. The extent of maternal mortality is an indicator of disparity and inequality in access to appropriate health care and nutrition services for women.

According to some analyses, the male health environment differs from that of the female. While boys spend more time in outdoor activities, girls lead the better part of their life in the " dark, smoke filled kitchen " in such a way as to suggest that exposure to infection may be gender specific.

Some research evidence suggests that men and boys of the household receive medical attention faster than girls and women. Males also get better quality of care. More money tends to be spent on an ailing male than on females.

The high maternal mortality in the South East Asian countries is primarily due to the neglect of women by society. Among the health service related factors, poor coverage and quality of antenatal care, lack of trained assistance during delivery, lack of access to essential emergency obstetric services for high risk & complicated cases, and lack of referral and transport system are major reasons.

Little Wives-Little Mothers:

Of the 4.5 million marriages that take place in India every year, 3 million involve 15 - 19 year old girls.

The four states of Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh account for about 50% of girls who are married off before age 16; the mean age of marriage being 15 and 16 years.

The main reasons for early marriage offered by parents were fears for their daughter's chastity, religious prescriptions and the transference of social and economic liability to the husbands' family.

Education:

Enrolment of girls is poor in schools across the country despite many government incentives. Many girls of poor families are not able to attend school because they have to work for wages or perform household duties.

In states where enrolment levels have increased, retention of girls in middle and high school level is a problem. Many a times, girls are removed from school as soon as they attain puberty to ensure sex seclusion.

Working Girls:

Girls begin their working life quite early. Some of them may be involved in full time economic activities even before they turn 14 years of age and many others are marginal workers.

While the larger population of girls is involved in full time economic activity, boys are often marginal workers; this is partly because boys go to school for some hours of the day.

The bulk of the rural female working child population is engaged in caring for younger siblings, cooking, cleaning, fetching fodder & fuel In agriculture, girls are involved in sowing, transplanting, weeding & harvesting.

A survey of 182 low income households in two Delhi slums showed that :
Female working children were younger than male working children
Nearly 50% of the female children were surrogate housekeepers or mothers; they had often been pulled out of school for precisely the reason.
Female children in almost all the cases gave all their earnings to their parents

Crimes against women:

In India today:
One dowry death takes place every 102 minutes
One rape occurs every 54 minutes
Molestation occurs every 38 minutes
A crime against women occurs every seven minutes
(Source: National Crime Records Bureau)
Nearly 7,000 complaints of domestic violence against women are reported annually in Delhi alone. It is obvious that these represent a minority of the actual cases of domestic violence. Even among the reported cases, less than 10 per cent of these complaints are registered as First Information Reports (FIR).
The disability adjusted life years (DALY) of women in the age group of 15-44 years lost due to domestic violence and rape is estimated to be 9.5 million years.
The risk of commercial sexual exploitation is greater for daughters of poor families living in marginal communities, daughters of destitute women and prostitutes.
Girls adopt prostitution out of a sense of helplessness, ignorance or because they were sold into prostitution.
A hospital based survey of 362 patients suffering from STIs in Delhi found 58 persons out of these were children below the age of 14 years. And the majority of those under 7 years were girls, indicating that they were victims of sexual abuse.

What exactly do the terms gender sensitivity and gender sensitization mean?

Gender sensitivity is acknowledging that women are subordinated in most societies and that this subordination is harmful not only for women & girls, but also for men and boys and the entire society.

It means being aware of why men and women behave differently and understanding their specific needs and concerns. It also means understanding the implications and impact of different policies and programmes on women and men.

Need for gender sensatization

Women are the very foundation of society, and the fulcrum around which the family's welfare revolves. We owe it to them and to the well being of our future generations to protect and promote their reproductive rights.
Gender based inequities permeate almost every aspect of the growing girl's social and cultural environment. For the average Indian child, the values and norms that define and often disparage the role of women significantly aggravate the privations of poverty.
A girl's childhood years are crowded with domestic chores and the sense of worthlessness, helplessness and dependence.
A large number of little girls are allowed to die because of malnutrition and disease that are either not treated or treated inadequately.
The high maternal mortality in the South East Asian countries is primarily due to the neglect of women by society. Among the health service related factors, poor coverage and quality of antenatal care, lack of trained assistance during delivery, lack of access to essential emergency obstetric services for high risk & complicated cases, and lack of referral and transport system are major reasons.

 

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