Gender - Introduction

From energypedia

Gender vs Sex

Often times, gender and sex is used interchangeably but this could be far from the reality. Sex refers to the biological attributions such as male, female and intersex. Gender, on the other hand is the socially and culturally constructed roles, behaviors and identifies and are not biologically defined. According to Energia, gender can be defined as "socially defined roles, privileges, attributes and relationships between men and women which are learned and not biologically determined[1].

Hence, there are different gender roles in different contexts which determines how men and women act and express themselves. These roles are influenced and defined by[1][2]:

  • socioeconomic factors (e.g. culture, traditions, poverty);
  • natural and man-made disasters (e.g. war, famine);
  • technical development (new machinery)
  • religion and others.

Gender Relations

Refers to the rights, responsibilities and identities of men and women in relation to one another.

Gender Identify vs Sex Orientation

Gender identify is how one feels and expresses themselves and can be same or different as one's sex. One could identify oneself as male, female, trans, gender queer or gender non-confirming.

Sexual Orientation is to whom you are attracted to and would like to have a relationship with. Some sexual orientation include: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, asexual and pansexual

Gender Equality vs Gender Equity

Gender equality refers to equal access of rights, opportunities and status of men and women. However, different gender faces different challenges due to factors such as societal constraint, deep rooted patriarchal norms and calamities like wars. Hence, promoting gender equality without addressing the per-existing vulnerabilities might result in one gender benefiting more than the other.

Gender equity is the process to achieve gender equality by ensuring fair and just access to equal rights, opportunities and status for both men and women. It includes efforts to identify the barriers faced by different genders and ensuring just and fair access.[3]

E.g, Distributing solar pumps in a society will not necessary benefit both men and women equally. It could be that women have less access to the pump due to pre-existing financial constraints as compared to men. Thus, gender equity will look at this pre-exisiting barriers and challenges so that all the gender benefit equally.


According to UNICER, “Empowerment is about women, men, girls and boys taking control over their lives: setting their own agendas, developing skills (including life skills), building self-confidence, solving problems and developing self-reliance.”[4]

Gender Roles

Gender roles can be defined as expectations based on one's sex[5]. For eg, male are expected to be masculine and display qualities such as strength and power whereas female are expected to be emotional and affectionate. Gender roles also extend towards the type of work male and female perform. For eg.  women are expected to do the household chores whereas certain jobs such as engineering, mechanics are more male dominated.

Gender roles are not static but rather exists in a continuum and change with the above mentioned factors, They can also vary within the same household, society and country[6]. For eg, a poor woman might have to do the household duties as well as work in the agricultural fields whereas a rich woman might have servants to do both the work. Also, a married woman might work in the house as well as look after the children while an unmarried woman might mostly help with the household duties. Before world war, women were not working in factories in Europe but during the world wars, due to lack of manpower for factories, women started working in factories changing the earlier gender norms.

The gender roles can roughly divided into three categories as shown in the table below:

Gender Roles.png

Gender Needs

The gender needs can be broadly summarized into two categories:

  1. Practical needs: refers to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and clothing.
  2. Strategic needs: refers to long-term needs that will transform as well as challenge the gender roles between men and women in the society

Gender Needs.png

Gender Blind vs Gender based discrimination

Projects and programmes are gender blind when they do not take into account the gendered roles and responsibilities of men and women in specific social, cultural, economic and political contexts.

Gender based discrimination refer to decisions that favor one gender over another and leads to gender inequaliy

Gender Equity Continuum

Gender equity continuum refers to the switch from gender inequity to gender equity and how to achieve it.[7]

  • Gender sensitive: Process of creating awareness about the existing gender-based discrimination
  • Gender responsive: Addressing the inequalities between men and women in terms of access to resources, decision-making and power.
  • Gender transformative: Changing the existing gender norms by addressing the root cause of gender based discrimination.

Gender Equity Continumm.png

Gender Analysis

It is the first step towards understanding the inequalities that exists between men and women to achieve gender mainstreaming.

Gender analysis can be defined as, "collection and analysis of quantitative data (numbers, percentages, proportions, ratios) and qualitative information (preferences, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, values, scope, etc.) through gender lens".[4]

Gender Mainstreaming

Gender gap refers to how men and women are affected differently by the socioeconomic, political and cultural factors. It does not exist in isolation in society but is a combination of different factors[8][1]. Thus, gender mainstreaming is needed to address the gender gap and ensure that men and women benefit equally. It involves integration of gender perspective into the preparation, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes to achieve gender equality.

The United Nations Economic and Social Council has defined gender mainstreaming as “a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design,implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated[6].

Gender Mainstreaming is not an end goal but rather a process to achieve gender equality.[4]

Gender Parity

It refers to the relative equality between men and women in terms of numbers and proportion.[7] For e.g number of male and female headed households with access to electricity.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Khamati-Njenga, B., & Clancy, J. (2003a). Concepts and issues in gender and energy. Retrieved from
  2. UNDP, & ENERGIA. (2004). Gender and energy for sustainable development: A toolkit and resource guide. Retrieved from
  3. A movement to end gender-based violence.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 UNICEF (2018). Gender Toolkit.
  5. [1] H. J. Fawkner, “Body Image Development – Adult Men,” in Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance, T. Cash, Ed. Oxford: Academic Press, 2012, pp. 194–200
  6. 6.0 6.1 UNDP. (2007a). Gender mainstreaming: A key driver of development in environment & energy.Retrieved from
  7. 7.0 7.1 UNICEF (2018). Gender Toolkit:
  8. Harris, B. (2017). What is the gender gap (and why is it getting wider)? Retrieved January 11, 2020,from World Economic Forum website: