Gender Dynamics in Development
Gender issues must be understood if development goals are to be realized. This is not a requirement for just one region of the world or a certain group of people. It is a universal requirement because gender issues are the same for all people and for all places.
The difference may be in progress made in realizing equality, whereby developed countries have made more progress compared to developing countries. This essay will defend the thesis that the inability to understand gender issues leads to negative repercussions whose larger effect is impaired development. Evidence will be provided in defense of this thesis.
To start with, if a household does not understand how gender issues play out in the progress of the family, it is definite that the family will not be balanced. Some members will have it easy, while others will find it rough. In our patriarchal society, it is the women who end up suffering. The end result is that these women are unable to contribute to the economic development of the household fully, and therefore the household cannot develop.
Nationally, if policymakers are not in touch with gender dynamics, then the needs of each gender will be left out in planning. For example, the health needs of women need more attention and resources. This can only be fulfilled by policymakers who fully understand that this particular gender has special needs.
If this is not understood, this group of people will be left with problems that will weaken their ability to contribute towards the realization of development goals. This is the same story with international organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank, whereby if gender issues are not well understood, the underprivileged will continue being at a disadvantage and thus unable to make any meaningful contribution to the world economy.
Gender Dynamics in Development
The realization of a balanced world in every aspect will take a number of inputs. Regional and racial considerations will play a role. But none of these issues will be as significant as gender dynamics. Gender dynamics are something that cannot be consigned to one race or to one region of the world (Lorber 2005, pp. 21-22).
It is an issue that affects all people at all times in all places and in almost similar ways with different outcomes. The discussion of gender as a topic always stirs thoughts of women being left behind and some organizations led by feminists pushing forward to try and give these women a voice.
But this is a distorted view of gender. Gender encompasses both men and women, and for balanced development in every part of the world, the idea that both males and females are part of the gender topic must be remembered at all times. What is likely to happen if gender dynamics are not mainstreamed in all operations in society?
The gender disparities of the 21st century are clear for all to see. The percentage of women in most armies of the world is very small compared to their male counterparts. The total number of women in positions of leadership in both the private and the public sector is negligible when compared with the number of men in the same positions (Disch 2008, pp. 54-55).
The percentage of women who are truly empowered to the extent that they can participate in decision-making in households is very small (Taylor 1996, pp. 33-34). To look at the other side of the coin, too, the number of men who are in professions that are considered feminines such as nursing and hairstyling is very small. The condition is the same when it comes to organizations that are formed to advocate for the rights of men.
These differences in gender engagements are similar for all races and regions, as noted elsewhere in this essay (Aronson & Kimmel 2010, pp. 30-31). The difference is that the developed world is making more concerted efforts in attempts to create a fairground for both men and women.
Is the world a better place with these disparities? Is humanity suffering more because of the differences? In this essay, the thesis that humanity suffers more when gender dynamics are not well understood will be argued. Clear and practical evidence will be used in defense of this claim.
To start with, the lack of empowerment of women at the household level leads to a position where the interests of the female members of the household are not properly catered for. Is it possible for the man of the house to know what girls in a family need?
This is possible for obvious items such as food. But it takes a woman in the household to make a more appropriate decision when it comes to what females in the household want (Friedan 2001, pp. 12-14). But in the event that the household is clearly in the hands of men, women end up putting up with the ill choices made by men.
The outcomes of this kind of relationship include ill health for females, poor education for girls, and psychological problems resulting from the other unmet or improperly addressed needs.
In a more inclusive way, male members of the household should also be included in households where male members are marginalized. But such households where men have no voice are quite a few. Thus, poor health, lack of education, and psychological problems are some of the negative effects that arise from ignoring gender dynamics in households.
Organizations that push for the rights of women have increased in some settings leading to the marginalization of men in the process and therefore denying these men a chance to lead normal lives. It is not usual to come across a group that is advocating for the rights of men.
In some societies around the world, organizations that advocate for the rights of women are so many and so active such that these societies are now experiencing reverse gender discrimination (White 2010, p. 54-55). In such a setting, the overzealous women have taken administrative roles, and all they have done with their newly attained power is to push men to the periphery.
In such cases, education opportunities are first given to women, and the health needs of men are ignored as well as other male-related needs. This has led to the rise of men who cannot live normal lives due to not only lack of such provisions as education and health but also the psychological disturbance that comes with the fact that the once-ruled group is now on top and mistreating them. This increases the psychological disturbances.
The other negative repercussion of ignored gender dynamics is slow economic development. The fact that women make the majority of the world population is inescapable. Individual countries have this reality within their boundaries, with the female population making more than fifty percent of the total population (Hess & Vannoy 2000, pp. 19-20).
It so happens that women in such countries are not given a chance to serve in positions where they can generate income for their households. Increased household income is a direct factor in improving the economy of the country. The impact of insufficient financial resources in a family can lead to national limited financial resources. Therefore, the country ends up being poor.
This is what the ignorance of gender dynamics brings to a nation. An economic agenda that understands that women have been left behind for a long time and their input can play a major role in improving the economic standing of not only their families but also the nation will provide equal chances to men and women and, thus, have the privilege of reaping the fruits of improved economic performance as a result of female workforce.
Closely related to the above point is the denial of education opportunities to females in some countries. This takes place through the adoption of policies that ignore the fact that women are not always given the same opportunities as men and, therefore, if the female population of a country is to be raised at the level of men, they will have to be accorded affirmative action (Kramer 2010, pp. 75-77).
In the process, only men access educational opportunities, and an uneducated female majority ends up doing nothing for the nation. Thus, unlike the case above, where women may be educated but not given a chance to serve, this case is about women not being given a chance to pursue education. Education is the key to many jobs that require skills, and if women are not educated, it simply means that they cannot do these jobs.
Formulation of gender insensitive and oppressive policies is another repercussion of not paying attention to gender dynamics. It is not uncommon to find male policymakers making a decision on behalf of females in national policy-making forums (Helgesen 2010, pp. 16-17).
The resultant element of this type of setting is that policies that do not reflect the gender realities on the ground are formulated. It is, however, not expressly given that male policymakers will pass acts that are insensitive to female needs.
This is because there are instances where men can be trained on how to ensure that they understand the needs of each gender in policymaking. But this is not a common phenomenon in most places, especially in third world countries (Collins 2008, pp. 23-24).
What then happens when gender insensitive policies are formulated? Females whose needs are not catered for or males whose needs are not considered to end up suffering. This is a serious negative repercussion of ignoring gender dynamics in policymaking at the national level. The fact that it is a commonplace makes it a serious challenge that policymakers need to address.
Ignorance of gender dynamics at the national level has serious negative health repercussions. The element of healthcare is raised in this essay because of the widespread devastation health-related problems have done to the population throughout the world in general and in poor countries in particular. It is necessary that people involved in making decision note the point that men and women have different needs.
Women’s needs happen to be more attention-requiring, and only countries that have understood this reality are able to protect their female population from diseases and other health complications such as pregnancy complications (Lips 2007, pp. 56-59).
The number of women who lose their lives in the process of childbirth in developing countries is very high. This is also true for the number of women who die from other health concerns that affect women only.
The power balance in households is also played out in health matters in the sense that in most cases, a woman does not have the way in avoiding her man who has the freedom to engage in extramarital sex resulting in infections such as HIV/AIDS.
It is said that communities that frown upon women who engage in extramarital sexual relations end up losing more women to sexually transmitted diseases through the fault of their husbands whose freedom to engage in this activity enables them to go out and bring the diseases to their spouses (Connell 2009, p. 65).
Under normal circumstances, gender-conscious settings should take into account all these hurdles faced by women in terms of healthcare issues and come up with ways and means of ensuring that the unique health needs of women are met. But is this what happens?
In most cases, policymakers in the field of healthcare make blanket decisions that ignore the cases mentioned above, and the impact is easy to guess. Many women end up losing their lives in record numbers. Is it possible to make achieve development goals if women in society are dying in record numbers?
It is impossible to make any meaningful economic progress without women in society. There is also the effect of ending up spending huge sums of money to meet the health needs of the sick and dying women as a result of ignoring the unique gender needs of women (Tanned 2001, pp. 11-12).
At the international level, the United Nations have had problems in fulfilling its mission and meeting the millennium development goal of universal free primary education due to the fact that the speed at which this organization is moving to implement the decisions that it has made is not friendly to the disadvantaged position of the female population.
It is one thing to come up with good policies, but it is another to move with speed and ensure that the policies are implemented. This is the case with the United Nations when it comes to the formulation of policies. A look at the plan the United Nations has on ensuring that both boys and girls access free primary education reveals a well thought out idea.
But there seems to be reconciliation between what is supposed to be done and the speed at which it is supposed to be done. The reality is that if girls are to be empowered through education before it is too late, the plan that the United Nations have come up with must be taken to the ground and be implemented at high speed.
Most countries in the world still remain insensitive to the disadvantaged position of women and, therefore, continue to pay little or no attention to the educational needs of women. As the United Nations takes its sweet time in implementing its strategy, more and more women continue being left out of the education wagon.
The situation that emerges when gender dynamics are understood in decision-making at the household, national and international, is that of balanced development with a solid social structure and an economic structure that makes it possible to most if not all development goals.
How will this look like? A household that understands gender dynamics will allow both men and women to have a say in the destiny of the household (Wharton 2004, pp. 34-35).
In this manner, girls and boys in the household will have their needs met in the required way resulting in healthy and vibrant children who grow up to participate in the uplifting of the economic standing of the family. This is unlike what happens in an imbalanced family with little or no understanding of gender dynamics, as noted elsewhere in this essay.
At the national level, when policymakers completely understand the gender dynamics of the nation, they will be in a position to come with policies that are sensitive to the gender needs of both men and women of the population. This means that all members of the society will have the climate they need to achieve maximum development in their careers as well as other areas.
These are the individuals who participate in the economic development of the nation and make it possible for the nation to achieve its development goals. However, most cases show that the situation is not being solved in contemporary society with regard to the development goals and gender needs of the population.
At the international level, if international organizations that are responsible for human development such as the United Nations and the World Bank understand gender dynamics, they will be in a position to tune their policies to fit the realities on the ground.
They will understand that most countries do not provide substantial support for their female population and, therefore, take remedial action by reaching out to these groups with support (Caplan & Caplan 2008, pp. 89-90).
Also, the speed with which they implement some of the sound policies that they formulate, such as the universal free primary education for all and reduction of infant and maternal mortality rate, would be favorable to females whose condition as far as education and healthcare are concerned is not sustainable.
To conclude, it is evident that gender dynamics play an important role in development. It is also clear that the inability to understand gender dynamics will have negative repercussions on the population of the world, a scenario that will make it difficult to achieve development goals.
The inability of females to have their health and educational needs met at the family or household level will make the family have fewer people working towards the improvement of their economic position of the family, thus, making it hard to develop. The nation that has policymakers who do not understand gender dynamics will fail to notice that either men or women need more support so as to be on par with the other.
This will render one gender useless as far as participation in the country’s economic development is concerned. At the international level, international development organizations such as the United Nations and the World Bank will witness the rising deaths and illiteracy among women as they move at a pace that is not sensitive to gender dynamics. This is how serious a poor understanding of gender dynamics can be.
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