Gender Sensitization term has surfaced up highlighting an imbalance resulting from social and economic expectations for Genders. It mainly focuses on gender equality concerns. It is a term that refers to making people sensible towards roles, notions and emotions based on people’s gender. It brings awareness about genders, the difference between sex and gender, gender based violence, gender stereotypes and other gender related terminology.
Defining roles/social behaviours as per genders are so deeply ingressed in our society that it is very difficult to unlearn. This predefined behaviours and roles are termed as Gender stereotypes. Example being “pink represents women and Blue represents men”/”Women are bad drivers”/Men should not be emotional”/”Women do not understand finance” etc. It seems more like compulsion than choice.
Difference between Sex and Gender; Sex refers to the biological differences between male and female (genitalia and genetic differences), whereas Gender refers to the learned roles and behaviours. This behaviour (gender) defines roles and responsibilities like norms, outfits, freedom, opportunities etc in a society. It is often taught that girls and boys are different and therefore their roles in the society are defined accordingly.
Patriarchy; It is social system and set of ideas where men dominate over the family and especially women. This makes men primary citizen and the female secondary citizen of the country. As a result of patriarchy, men tend to have social privileges which allows them to oppress others. Patriarchy is the culprit for gender based violence, overburdening on gender with social expectations, gender inequality many other gender related problems. Especially in the case; where women are expected to work 9-5 at a job, then come home, cook and clean. Whereas men come home and relax, spend time with family. Why is it that, men get to relax after a long day at work and women have to carry out household chores even after coming home from work. Back then, when women did not work and looked after the house was justified as people did not have high living standards but with increase in living standards, it is very difficult for a family to survive on single salary.
Gender based violence; Statistics say that in India, there is a significant increase of 53% in domestic violence cases. IPC section 498A is a criminal law that protects married women from domestic violence. In spite of increase in domestic violence cases, it is said that most of the cases still go unreported due to financial dependency, pressure, embarrassment and many such reasons.
NFHS-5 (National Family and Health Survey) is an independent body that collects data based on surveys. Survey on domestic violence was conducted and the results were core shocking. Domestic violence in states (highest to lowest) Karnataka (44%)> Bihar (40%)> Manipur (39.6%)> Telangana (36.9%) Assam (32%)> Andhra Pradesh (30%) Goa (8.3%)> Himachal Pradesh (8.3%)> Nagaland (6.4%)> Lakshadweep (1.3%).
Gender division of labour; the tasks which are defined based on one’s gender is called gender division labour. “Men’s responsibility to take care of the finances of the house”/” Men cannot be emotional”/ Women’s responsibility to look after the house”/” women should know how to cook” are the examples of gender division labour. This division is further categorized into productive work, reproductive work, unpaid care work etc. Productive work represents monetary value or economic growth. More than often women’s productive work is valued less than men. Reproductive work represents giving birth, taking care of the child. It is often misinterpreted as “Women’s work”. This type of work is the most underrated and unappreciated work since it has no economic returns. Unpaid care work refers to taking care of the needs and demands of the family members, household chores like cooking and cleaning, nurturing others etc. This work is also assumed to be “Women’s work” as society believe women are naturally nurturing. They see it as a natural quality. Young girls are conditioned and taught to take care and nurture of the family. Such predefined roles can take a toll on women physical and mental health as they are always burdened by the amount of expectations from them.
Gender Biases; It refers to the bias faced by men and women based on their gender. Women is less likely to be promoted in jobs than men because companies feel men can contribute more than women. Some companies don’t even hire women employees.
90% of these can be overcome by Gender sensitization. It increases people’s emotional quotient which help them preserve personal as well as professional relationships. Women tend to have way more responsibilities than men. Similarly, men tend to have immense pressure to be successful and do well off in career. Gender sensitization teaches people to not define roles and responsibilities on people and add more to the pile of responsibilities. Gender sensitization is all about unlearning which has been taught to us since centuries. It improves people’s ability to relate, empathize and understand people of other genders. Gender sensitization teaches men to be empathetic about women and vice-versa.
Is Gender sensitization about women? Not really! but since children and women are the most vulnerable to the societal norms, they feel discrimination at workplace and at home. Gender sensitization is a gender empowering concept that tries to reduce the immense pressure that people face in the name of gender defined roles and responsibilities. Which means men can be emotional /it is okay for women to not know how to cook/Women can focus on her career without feeling guilty/men can choose to take care of the family without being embarrassed about it.
How can gender sensitization help society be a better place? As they say “Woke parents raise woke children”, likewise sensible parents can raise sensible children. That way a whole generation of sensible adults can balance the imbalances developed in the society by being sensitive towards other genders. This can result in to society where a girl is not forced learn the household chores and boys can play with dolls without being ridiculed about it.
It is high time that we see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals