Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gender and Sex – My reflections

The International Labour Office (2000) definition of gender as quoted in the handbook is comprehensive and explicit.

Gender is defined by the ILO as:
The social differences and relations which are learned, vary widely among societies, and changes over time… They condition which activities; tasks and responsibilities are perceived as male and female. Gender roles are affected by age, class, race, ethnicity, and religion, and by the geographical, economic and political environment.

Sex is a purely biological description, which serves to define males and females on the basis of their biological features.

Reflecting on the ILO definition, we are able to gender as having to do with the various limitations and divisions that are forced upon our consciousness directly or indirectly in the sociological process of growing up and functioning in our various societies.

These sometimes silent and invisible divisions really place limitations on what a person can do, or aspire to become in the socio-political and economic spheres of existence in the society.

In most of our societies, gender limitations affect women more than men. Because women are conditioned to be seen, and in fact, see themselves as being only created to fit into ONLY some limited set of roles.

This conditioning, subtly imprinted upon our subconsciousness, and thus imbibed and accepted as the laid down norms of the society as we grow up, confines women basically home keeping roles. Even when allowed access to education, they are conditioned to be seen and also see themselves as being fit for certain predefined occupations, mostly in auxiliary or support roles.

The age long perception of women being the ‘weaker sex’ might have been accepted as being valid in the past centuries, but in today’s world, proofs abound of women being able to effectively function and excel in virtually all fields of human endeavour.

The diverse fields of Astronomy, medicine, ICT, sports, engineering, education and economics are all filled with women who have proven that the biological differences between human males and females doesn’t put either sex at an advantage or disadvantage when it comes to occupational achievements.

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This work by Ibrahim K. Oyekanmi (mallamibro@gmail.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.