On gender equality

The term “gender” is used to describe a set of qualities and behaviours expected of men and women by the society. A person’s social identity is formed by these expectations. These expectations stem from the idea that certain qualities, behaviours, characteristics, needs and roles are natural for men, while some qualities and roles are natural for women.

Gender is not biological, girls and boys are not born knowing how they should look, dress, speak, behave, etc. Their masculine and feminine identities are constructed through the process of socialization, which prepares them for the social roles they are expected to play. These social roles and expectations differ from culture to culture and at different period in history.

Gender is not a synonym for “women”, there is a fundamental difference between gender and sex. Sex refers to the biological differences between men and women, it is biologically determined, that is, by birth and it is generally unchanging and universal. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, responsibilities and identities for men and women.

Gender roles and identities are learned in the family, school, religious institutions and through the media. They are historically and socially specific. The appropriate roles and identities for men and women in our cultural setting may be different from those in another culture setting.

Gender and sex are different in the sense that sex is natural, universal and unchanging. We are born as male and female but as we grow up as boys and girls, we are taught to be men and women, with appropriate behaviours, attitude, roles and activities pertaining to each sex. Moreover, since gender roles, responsibilities, and identities are learned, they can also be changed.

Equality is a basic human right. It refers to the equal respect to their rights and in legislation and policies, as well as in providing equal access and control of resources and services within the society. Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the unlock sphere.

Blessing Bassey,

Student of Mass Communication,

Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic,


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