WOMEN AND GENDER 10
Thiscourse exposed me to a rich extent of knowledge about gender, womenand the social dynamics that affect them. While I learnt a wide rangeof issues, concepts, ideas and reviewed several articles, the conceptof diversity in the definition of feminism and masculinity. Theconcept of feminism and masculinity are understood differently bydifferent societies all over the world. The understanding of thisconcept in the course opened me to a clearer perspective of thediverse experiences faced by women. Different societies havedifferent ways of understanding the role of women and the ideas offeminism and masculinity, especially in the division of labor1.These differences lead to the diversities that all communities havewhen handling matters of gender such as equality and division ofwork.
Thediversity of defining masculinity and feminism determines thedifferent roles of women in different societies and culturalsettings. The diversity creates the perception and the attitude thatthe people of certain cultures describe the tasks women play in thecommunity. For instance, cultures in nomadic societies view the roleof women differently from other communities because of their nomadiclife2.As a result of the description, women in different cultures areallocated roles that differ according to the definition anddescription of feminism. This explains the reason why differentsocieties have different gender roles. For instance, a society thatthinks that a woman is only meant to raise children and work at homewill have women playing the role of a housewife and care giver only.However, the society that thinks of a woman as an equal gender withthe man may tend to have their women perform any task as equal withmen3.
Theidea of diversity of the societies in the definition of feminism andmasculinity is important because it gives the main reason whydifferent societies have different gender roles. After reflectingthis concept, I was able to understand the difference between theperceptions about women in my community and that of an Africancommunity, as I learned through a friend from Africa. I realized thatmy society views women as a gender that can perform the same role asmen, which is contrary to the society that my African friend. As aresult, the two cultures have a different gender roles based on thedefinition of feminism and importance of women in the society.
Thiscourse has extensively changed my views of women and men in a diversespectrum. However, three main changes stand out as the ways throughwhich the course has changed my perspective. The first change is thecourse has enhanced and my recognition of women by affirming thatthey have an equal role in the society as men. This is a perspectivethat I had before, but not in the magnitude that I have now due tothe teachings in the course. For example, I thought that women shouldbe the ones holding the household roles of caring for the family suchas the kitchen work and laundry. However, this perception has changedbecause I now realize that both men and women can do the same rolesin the society.
Theother change is in the view of the role of gender in leadershippositions in the society. The course has enhanced my understandingthat women can be as good leaders as men or even better. I held apartial belief about this concept this course has affirmed thatwomen have an equal ability to lead at any position of power orleadership. Previously, I thought that women are equal to men, butonly in certain aspects and cannot hold certain positions. A perfectexample is in political positions, where I thought that the toppositions of power like the presidency only belong to the men andthat women may not be not able to hold them. However, the course haschanged this perspective.
Inaddition, the course has enhanced my understanding of the experiencesof women around the globe. Previously, I had a limited perception ofthe issues affecting women, especially those that relate to genderroles and equality. However, through the texts and readings in thecourse, this perception has been enhanced to contextualize the issuesof women in the world today. For example, the reading by Ward andEdelstein hasenhanced my exploration of marriage patterns across the worldviolence against women and health issues affecting women worldwide4.This is in contrast with the previous understanding that women do notface similar issues among different cultures globally.
Whileall the issues affecting women in the world are significant to theirwelfare, two issues stand out as the most critical. These issues arewomen leadership roles and gender violence. The role of women inleadership is a critical in the twenty first century because of thesignificance of women leaders in addressing gender equality issues.The past instances of discrimination of women from leadershippositions have enhanced the perception that women are the weakergender in the society5.This is because they are generally viewed as the gender with thelesser ability to lead or influence the society.
Genderviolence is perhaps the most critical issue that faces the modernsociety as the world marches to the twenty first century. Genderviolence is based on the gender inequality that is skewed againstwomen and leads to the victimization of females. The past centurieshave had cases of women facing critical situations due to violencefrom men. In some communities, violence is used against women in amanner that demeans their humanity and disrespects their dignity.Therefore, the world should focus on ending violence against women,especially through ending domestic violence.
Theworld should adopt approaches that seek to eliminate genderedconflicts against women by creating an environment for nurturingequality. Gender inequality is the basis of the situations thatbefall the society that practices domestic violence. Some othersocieties like Chinese cultures may not have physical violence buttheir perception about equally women is demeaning6.This means that embracing gender equality can be a good beginning ofthe ending gendered violence. By embracing gender equality, thesociety will create equal opportunities and creates an atmospherewhere gender violence is not an option in influencing the decisionsof others.
Whilethe role of women is understood in the modern society, the work ofwomen has been largely “invisible” over time. Women’s work isconsidered largely invisible because of three main reasons. One ofthe reasons is the insignificant role they play in the society. Forinstance in India, gender discrimination and inequality limits womento the roles that are not significant enough to be visible in theglobal picture7.For instance, in most communities, women are relegated to houseworkand minor roles in the society compared to men who are largelyinvolved in community work. The result is that the work of men willovershadow that of women, despite their presence in the society andappearing to be active in the society.
Thesecond reason is the perception of the society about the works ofwomen. Some societies have a low opinion of women disregard of therole they play in the society and the work they do. As a result ofthe opinion and perception, many people do not give any attention tothe women in the society. Some societies consider women as the genderthat does, the less significant work that does not warrant anyattention. Lack of recognition for the work that women do is alsoassociated with low or no appreciation of the work done by women inthe society. This is because the society is mostly focused on thework done by men, which is considered to be the most important.
Genderdiscrimination is another reason that makes the work of women to belargely invisible. The discrimination against women contributes toinvisibility in two ways. One of the ways is the discrimination inthe allocation of jobs and positions of influence between women andmen. Women are allocated lower-tier jobs and positions of lowinfluence. As a result, their work is never noticed, and if it is, itis only significant in the lower levels. Secondly, there isdiscrimination in the processes of recognizing the efforts of womenwho have stood out in their work. This takes place when recognizingoutstanding works of the community, where men are recognized andrewarded more than women. This happens in cases where men’s work isconsidered to be superior to that of women.
Transnationalcorporations are the large multinational business enterprises thatoperate globally, thereby introducing global perspective in theiroperations in the countries they venture. Their influence on womenand gender issues is significantly visible through their hiringstrategies and community empowerment programs. The main influence ofthe transnational corporations is offering employment opportunitiesto women, despite the social discrimination tendencies by thecommunities of the countries the organizations operate in. Theprovision of job opportunities offers women opportunities for theirempowerment through income generation. For instance in India, womenhave been empowered to counter the dominant male authority8.As a result, women get to have an equal economic empowerment as men,or even earn more than men. This empowers the women to perform sameof higher responsibilities in the society.
Theemployment and economic empowerment by the transnational corporationsinfluences women by giving them equal opportunities for professionalgrowth with men. The transnational corporations train employees anddevelop their skills at the same level despite their gender or socialdisparities. As a result, women get equal chances to go up thecorporate ladder and become examples of how best they can be whengiven a chance. Their success inspires other women, who see thepracticality of the quest for equal opportunities through genderequality. This makes the society more conscious of the genderdiscrimination and the potential of women to change the societythrough economic and social empowerment.
Inaddition, the transnational corporations influence women by growingleaders out of the working women. Transnational corporations trainwomen in the countries they operate as part of either their employeeempowerment program or corporate social responsibility. Throughemployee empowerment, there is development on the society. Thedevelopment has a positive impact on women and also on the ideologyof gender. As a result, the economic empowerment makes women theicons of change in the society through economic empowerment9.Transnational corporations also support programs of socialimportance, such as women empowerment through community initiativesas part of their social responsibility program. The initiatives bytransnational corporations focus on empowering the working women toempower others in the society and create a positive corporate image.
Thesecond shift is the phenomenon that describes women’sresponsibility at home with domestic work that is generally unpaid.The concept also referred to as double burden relates to the womenwho have to work at their day jobs for pay and later work at home tofulfill their domestic role of work at home. This phenomenon of“second shift” describes women have a double burden to carry ontheir day to day lives by working both at work for pay and work athome for no pay. The status of these women exposes the unfair workdistribution where women end up doing much of the work than men.
Thephenomenon depicts how women work in two positions, especially forthose in the families with both couples in paid jobs. In such afamily, both couples go for work in the morning to their respectivework stations, an element of same or equal roles10.Here, both the man and the woman work equally, and spend the sametime at their day jobs. However, in the evening, women spend moretime working on household tasks like child caring, kitchen work,laundry or housekeeping more than the men. As a result, this eveningwork is considered to as the “second shift” of their daily workschedule.
Thephenomenon of “work shift” exposes the extent of genderinequality in the society. The inequality is significantly visiblethrough unequal allocation of roles where the woman is expected tocarry out both the income generation role and household tasks. Forinstance, the woman will have to take the role of giving birth andraising children, as discussed by Robbie in the reading aboutAmerican child birth11.This is much more unfair because men tend to avoid the housework, andif they do, they take the minimal. This is because in some societies,the housework is considered to be feminine tasks. As a result, the“second shift” describes the gender inequalities in relation towork allocation.
Brettell,C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). GenderinCross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.)NewYork:PearsonEducation
Ward,M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). AWorld Full of Women (6th edition).NewYork:PearsonEducation
1 Ward, M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson Education, page 9
2 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, page 156
3 Ward, M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson Education, page 12
4 Ward, M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson Education, page 180
5 Ward, M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson Education, page 86
6 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, page 209
7 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, page 47
8 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, page 359
9 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, Page 502
10 Ward, M., & Edelstein, M. (2009). A World Full of Women (6th edition). New York: Pearson Education, Page 186
11 Brettell, C., & Carolyn, S. (2013). Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective (6th ed.) New York: Pearson Education, Page 450