Gender inequality implies to the unequal treatment of a person based on their gender. This concept arises from the differences in social constructed gender roles within the society. Gender inequality has been one of the social concerns during the world history of development. In today’s world however, every individuals and organizations are aware that without the predication of women, the development process will not be as effective and sustainable. Therefore many organizations as well as institutions have debated on the issues concerning gender and development, and have made significant improvement to make development gender-equitable. For instance the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1979 which generally describes the several agendas for national actions to end discrimination against women whether be at home or at workplaces (United Nations 2009). The introduction of policies, procedures and guidelines concerning gender equality has improved the rights and statuses of women. Hence the gender gap has been decreasing each year due to effective development processes which integrates women, empower them and give them access to join leadership positions in both the economic and political sphere. This piece of writing aims to examine how the development processes reinforces gender equality in terms of the decreasing feminization of poverty, the inclusion of women in the development processes and the differences within symbolic dimensions of gender since gender is particularly referred as the socially constructed roles, behaviours and characteristics that a certain society regard as appropriate for women and men (WHO 2013).
The differences within the symbolic dimensions
When raising the issues of gender inequality or gender equality, one needs to identify the differences within the symbolic dimensions. The differences within symbolic dimensions are always personified in the societies in which we live in (Davids & Driel 2009, p. 913). These differences within the symbolic dimension tend to represent the differences between the white and the black, Muslim and Christian, the woman and the man, the homosexual and the heterosexual and so forth (Davids & Driel 2009, p. 913). In this essay, the symbolic dimension which will be discussed is the gender differences.
The differences in gender are mainly differed by the socially constructed roles, behaviours and characteristics that a certain society consider as appropriate for women and men. Individuals learn the social characteristics that are associated with maleness or femaleness during the socialization processes. The learned roles and behaviours that are related with being female or male tend to vary from one culture to the other. For instance, the men in the Maasai culture of northern Tanzania stay in woods and are raised to be warriors from an early age whereas women practice the roles of being good housewives and mothers at an early age so as they can get married once they reach puberty and reproduce to increase the population growth of the Maasai society (Finke 2003). One may agree that this is how men and women should be socialized because men have certain attributes that women cannot portray. However, the world has become more globalised. Societies and the traditional way of life is consequently changing. If a woman is not integrated into the economic life, then the development processes will not be as effective.
There are several studies that have shown that the development processes in terms of the symbolic dimensions has shown some improvements because many people have stopped assuming that the distinction based on sex and gender works the same for all women (Wharton 1998, p.57). According to Ely (2000, p.592), studies have examined how the presence of women’s position in power has affected the social construction of gender differences in the development process. A number of women lawyers working as associates together with several men in a certain law firm were examined. The studies showed that women did not portray their social components but rather their personal component whereby they showed their intellectual traits and their ability to work like men. This study has therefore showed that women do have the ability and some attributes that are by some means the same as men because once these women enter in the working field, they leave their social identities of being a women and concentrate in their personal identities. Due to this study, some organizations have employed and gave equal access to women in several leadership positions because balancing professional men and women in the development processes tends to reduce gender inequality.