05. Gender roles /
In order to deconstruct the stereotypes behind gender inequality, we need to understand how they are created, established, and transmitted. Gender roles allow us to identify how societies and institutions have assigned women, on the basis of their sex, so-called reproductive roles related to domestic duties, and assigned men with income-generating productive roles.
What is expected of men and women?
What does it mean to take the different social roles of men and women into account, because that is what we mean by gender roles.
Based on biological differences, all of the world’s societies, through their customs, traditions, and religions, assign different roles to men and women.
Gender roles refer to activities assigned to women and men according to what are perceived as gender differences. They are socially determined, influenced by social, cultural, and environmental factors that characterise a certain society, community, or historical period.
Gender approach consists of identifying social roles associated with women and men in a given society, whether these roles are the result of our social norms but also of gender stereotypes that can be challenged.
Gender roles tend to establish boundaries between what, from the public sphere perspective, is seen as appropriate for women and men in society.
The four main roles are:
Reproductive (or domestic role): that is to say unpaid activities undertaken for the well-being of the family.
Reproduction activities are those which underpin economic and production growth in societies: caring and looking after children, domestic tasks, (cleaning, handiwork, repairs); food (purchasing food and preparing meals); health-related activities.
Productive activity, role of production: this includes economic, remunerated, income-generating activities such as salaried work or self-employment, as well as informal occupations.
Community activity and role in the community: activities that foster the well-being of the community.
This involves voluntary activities that contribute to social and community life, including volunteer work, cultural activities, festivities and rituals, care of the elderly and care of the environment.
Political or decision-making activities.
Broadly speaking, this means the exercise of power and participation in decision-making at every level, whether political (international, regional, national, local); with associations or other social bodies, or within the community and family.
Women are more often inside, men outside.
What emerges from these roles is that women take on most of the reproductive activities in most countries of the world. Even while having a professional activity or conducting informal production (productive role), women also assume domestic and household tasks (reproductive role).
These reproductive social tasks are necessary to enable the productive role, which would soon collapse without them.
But they remain invisible, are not included in assessments of national wealth (Gross Domestic Product), and are generally undervalued.
Thus, on average, women spend nearly 3 1/2 hours a day on domestic tasks compared with less than two hours for men. Overall women tackle three quarters of all the hours worked in the world.
And yet women have a much lower representation in political activities and decision-making processes, where they generally occupy lower positions. In productive activities, too, they occupy lower positions and even with equal skills and responsibilities, they receive lower remuneration in every country in the world.
In order to correct inequalities between men and women within the framework of a strategy that takes gender into account, changes and social developments need to take place in parallel, on two levels: access and control.
The first level is about meeting women’s short-term practical needs: these practical needs are an improvement in living conditions in terms of access to healthcare, housing, mobility, natural resources, income, and childcare.
The second level is about targeting their more long-term strategic interests.
These strategic interests include improvements in social status and equality: management
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