report

What Do You Think about Gender Sensitization?

Thanks to the 3-day workshop on The Gender Sensitization Awareness Programme, there is something else to explore. The workshop was presented in Basseterre, St. Kitts on October 5-7, 2016 by the St. Kitts-Nevis Government Department of Gender Affairs and funded by the Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF). The agenda is being promoted by the United Nations (UN), which clearly expects the idea to have international appeal.

San Diego Airport - being sensitive and welcoming to all.

All Gender Restroom sign (debuted in 2015) at San Diego Airport by Checkingfax
All Gender Restroom sign (debuted in 2015) at San Diego Airport by Checkingfax | Source

Daily attendance averaged 30 Kittitian participants, some representing public and private agencies, plus a few community activists who received personal invitations. However, during the heated discussions when individuals expressed their beliefs and opinions, certain cliques became apparent. In addition to men versus women, there were 3 major subgroups: educators, fundamentalist Christians and Rastafarians. There were bound to be differences of opinions.

At the conclusion of this article, there is a table showing the general consensus on what these groups think about gender sensitization. There is also solicitation for readers' input. Opinions matter, especially since everyone is affected.

CEDAW

CEDAW is an international treaty adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. It is the most comprehensive international agreement on the basic human rights of women. The Treaty provides an international standard for protecting and promoting women’s human rights and is often referred to as a “Bill of Rights” for women. It is the only international instrument that comprehensively addresses women’s rights within political, civil, cultural, economic, and social life.

- Fact Sheet on CEDAW (2005)

An important feature of the Gender Sensitization workshop was the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) document.

The Convention focuses on:

  • civil rights and the legal status of women;
  • reproductive rights;
  • cultural factors influencing gender relations.

Following are 3 questions and answers which briefly present the basics of the workshop.

1) Definition

What is gender sensitization?

Man Grocery Shopping by Bill Branson
Man Grocery Shopping by Bill Branson | Source
Woman with Hard Hat and Chop Saw by Sean McGrath
Woman with Hard Hat and Chop Saw by Sean McGrath | Source

Simply put, gender sensitization is the process of becoming sensitive to the gender bias which is usually applied to men and women in their productive roles, and changing attitudes and behavior to replace bias with balance.

For example, gender bias may have us assume that the woman does the grocery shopping and the man wears the hard hat. If we become sensitive to the fact that both men and women can do grocery shopping and wear hard hats, we will withdraw our preconceived notions about the man and the woman. Consequently, our thoughts, words and actions will reveal that we view them as equally capable in these roles.

The program teaches that gender is a socially constructed concept learned through socialization and culture. Expecting the woman to shop for groceries and the man to wear the hard hat are gender concepts offered by our culture; and we can change these concepts.

On the other hand, sexual roles, defined by our biological makeup, are fixed at birth and cannot be changed. Men will never become pregnant and women will always have larger breasts. Only the reproductive roles are fixed, not the productive or gender roles.

Because women usually suffer more from gender bias, they seem to receive the greater benefit from gender sensitization education. Consequently, it must be established early that female empowerment is not intended to disempower men. Equality is the objective of the program.

Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.

— UN Division for the Advancement of Women

2) Intentions

What kind of change does sensitization training intend to produce in our everyday lives?

Examples of Results in 3 Countries

Bangladesh used CEDAW to help attain gender parity in primary school enrollment.

Kenya used CEDAW to address differences in inheritance rights, eliminating discrimination against widows and daughters of the deceased.

Kuwait’s Parliament voted to extend voting rights to women in 2005 following a recommendation by the CEDAW Committee to eliminate discriminatory provisions in its electoral law.

- CEDAW at a Glance

  • We will more likely adhere to the universal Declaration of Human Rights, treating mean and women as “equal in dignity and rights.”
  • The CEDAW treaty will become a regular reference in our attempts to treat women right.
  • Gender-specific job titles will be altered to include both males and females. Examples: housewife will become homemaker; cleaning lady, custodian; policeman, police officer; foreman, supervisor, and so on.
  • Job interviews will exclude questions which target a woman’s vulnerability based on her reproductive role, and will focus more on her capabilities and potential as a human being.
  • Gender-based violence will no longer be tolerated by individuals who previously accepted that one gender is less deserving than the other of respect and humaneness.
  • Men and women will have equal advantages in economic opportunities, property rights, parenting opportunities, decision-making and all other matters.

3) Different Responses

How are different people responding to CEDAW and the gender sensitization concept?

CEDAW Participation by Allstar86.  Legend: bright green=signed and ratified; dark green=acceded or succeeded; yellow=only signed; red=non signatory.
CEDAW Participation by Allstar86. Legend: bright green=signed and ratified; dark green=acceded or succeeded; yellow=only signed; red=non signatory. | Source
  • Of the 194 UN member countries, 189 have ratified CEDAW. United States (US), Iran, Somalia, Palau and Tonga have not yet done so.
  • Various US organizations like League of Women Voters, and Amnesty International support the treaty, but others like United Families International and Concerned Women for America believe that women’s rights are already covered under the US Constitution and that CEDAW will “undermine traditional family values by redefining family.”
  • The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is a UN Member State since 1983. Following are some of the different responses from the workshop participants, which may very well mirror responses in similar groups in other countries.

General Consensus of the St. Kitts Workshop Groups

Groups
Opinions
Women
If gender sensitization empowers women in a man's world, bring it on.
Men
Attempts to empower women usually result in disrespect for men.
Educators
The concept is a useful tool in promoting excellence, even when it means crossing gender lines.
Fundamentalist Christians
Gender equality is against the Bible teaching that some leadership roles are reserved for men.
Rastafarians
Justice and fairness are important making it wise to give to individuals (men and women) the recognition they deserve for their contributions.
Some others
More may be achieved by empowering people to live and work in harmony than by sensitizing them to gender issues.

What are your thoughts?

Please take a minute to register an opinion in the comment section below. Thank you.

© 2016 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 40 comments

sallybea profile image

sallybea 6 weeks ago from Norfolk

Interesting! I came across All Gender Restrooms when I travelled to Tasmania last year. I was quite taken aback. I could not help noticing that most of the women preferred to wait until the Single Sex Restrooms became available. I do think there are some things I would like to continue doing the old fashioned way and that is going to the Restroom without a man looking over his shoulder.

I do wonder if we are going to have to rewrite the Bible if Gender equality is against the Bible teaching that some leadership roles are reserved for men.

Certainly food for thought. I think that must have been an interesting workshop to attend MsDora.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 6 weeks ago from USA

My opinions are most in line with the Rastafarians. I advocate gender neutral language, have spent years investigating complaints of workplace injustice and studying fairness. My own daughter is a female exploring a profession that is underrepresented in females (engineering) and I've encouraged her to use industrial power equipment along with her male peers. She can be both beautiful and technically gifted. And she's such a leader.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 6 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

Our world is changing. It is my job to learn to accept change, especially when it relates to individual choices and circumstances. It costs me nothing to accept sensitization, and I do not sit in judgement of anyone.


word55 profile image

word55 6 weeks ago from Chicago

Hi Dora, Nice article, Human life should be Bible based. Everybody regardless of gender should have equal rights. There should always be respect in the workplace and public places as much as possible. God will eventually deal with people according to their ways and works. As long as I or my rights are not violated, I have no problem with treating people as I would like to be treated. People should not take the general rights and liberties of others so personal.


rochelle0512 profile image

rochelle0512 6 weeks ago from Edinburgh

Since most men do not urinate sitting down I appreciate gender specific bathrooms


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Sally, thanks for sharing. You're not alone in wanting to do things in the old-fashioned way. Yet these agencies insist that we learn new ways. Because Christians consider the Bible to be the Word of God, that will not change. I guess there'll always be some conflict and we all have to decide the principles we choose to live by.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Flourish, congratulations to you and your daughter. She'll be even more beautiful standing beside her male peers, and being equally productive.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Bill, thanks for you feedback. You're satisfied to be yourself no matter what. The changes around you cannot change you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Word. the Golden Rule applies whether or not other people live by it, and those who to benefit most from it are those who apply it unconditionally. Thanks for your comment.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Rochelle, many people share your preference, and are hoping that there's always be those kinds of restrooms.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 6 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

Dora this was very very well put together. The way you organized and structured and explaining things very succinctly.

As a Christian I believe men and women have certain roles in the family and the church, however the Bible also teaches that men and women are equal in value and importance. There is no basis for saying the Bible shows women are inferior to men. Jesus treated women with utmost respect and value, which at times went completely against the grain of the cultural view of women in that day.

Women deserve equal value, respect and importance as men. In the working world I think women should get equal pay as men in the same job. If the woman has the same skill as a man she should not be discriminated against. In other words the same basic rights as a man.

Women must all be respected equally. Women have been treated shamefully by men sexually. Trump's hot mic discussion is an extreme example. Basically I think there is still way too much wrong with how women are seen by men as sex objects and still too much sexual discrimination by men in the workplace, especially when there are more men than women at the job.

The feminist movement has a lot of good but in many ways has swung too far. Men are shown as buffoons in television sitcoms and the children and wife disrespect them.

There needs to be balance in regards to human rights. All are to be valued and respected equally.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 6 weeks ago from london

You branched out, Dee. Just saying. I think it's great! All the way through I was thinking that a simple and original life would solve all these issues. So I was quite happy when I read the very last bit:

"More may be achieved by empowering people to live and work in harmony than by sensitizing them to gender issues." - Dora Isaac

You know, I learnt more as a grown man in England and became familiar with words we did not know in the tiny village where I was born! How I love simplicity! How I value the less complicated life!

Still, I do not wish to say that I'm not aware of current trends and change in thinking. I feel that some makes us 'tight' inside, though.

Your article is well woven and expressed with prudence. Excellent work!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Lori, I appreciate your detailed opinions on gender equality. Your last sentence is a good summary for your comments as well as for my article. Thanks.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, I agree that our language and habits back then made us a different kind of people. Some think that in the less complicated life, we lacked knowledge. Nevertheless, we know that we are wiser and are equipped to choose our paths going through this maze of new trends. Thanks for your encouragement.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 6 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a thought provoking and educational article, MsDora. I strongly believe in social justice, which from my point of view incorporates gender justice. My favourite consensus in your table is that of the Rastafarians.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Alicia, thanks for weighing in. Good one. Equal opportunity commendation will mean that every contributor knows his or her significance.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 6 weeks ago from Queensland Australia

Like others, I think the Rastafarians' opinion was the best. There is an increasing number of unisex restrooms popping up here in Australia, but there is usually also a choice of gender specific male and female ones for those who prefer them. I am fine with it as long as there is a choice for those who don't wish to use them.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

You're right Jodah. Just because some people like a certain something does not mean that they should expect everyone to like that same thing. If we are left with choices, we are more able to manage our journey.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 weeks ago from the short journey

Thanks for an interesting look at the issue and opening a discussion on it. It's curious to note that people with access to private restrooms in their workplaces are deeming it appropriate for the rest of society to share common restrooms with any and everyone. People are still accepting what they see in media/entertainment as the norm which is far from what the average person's everyday life is about, making it easy for a few to sway legal decisions on many matters that common sense tells us are absurd if we stop and think them through from start to finish. For instance, my husband is my partner but to dismiss the fact that he is my husband by reducing our relationship to a business arrangement and calling him my partner has consequences on some subtle and not so subtle levels, some of which result in my being denied the rights and privileges of being his wife. The issues are never just that simple, but beginning to think them through at a certain point can lead to understanding the reasons for their more complicated aspects.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Mary, I appreciate your viewpoint. It is not worth trading your emotional attachment as wife for the status of business partner. Some women in the workshop also mentioned that it is not worth trading the time spent as mother for the time spent getting equal opportunity hours at work. You're so right. "The issues are never just that simple."


MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 6 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

I believe in equality. At the same time, I am afraid of the idea of using the same rest room as someone of the opposite gender. Maybe time will help me become desensitized to that issue. In any event, people are running with the idea, so it is out of my hands and I am simply going to have to relax over that issue.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Marlene, how it seems they are running backward but insist that they are running forward. We might as well relax. Thanks for your feedback.


DDE profile image

DDE 5 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting feedback you have here. I am comfortable using the toilet with the same gender so its difficult to get into detail it is the way I was taught.


Barry 5 weeks ago

This gender programme could have a hidden agenda. When man and woman have the same capabilities, parents could be either two men or two women. Is that where we're going with this?


MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, thanks for your feedback. The all-gender toilet is only one aspect of the sensitization program. However, you always seem so levelheaded, I know that you can handle the rest of it.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Barry, now you give us something else to think about. Thanks for your input.


Melvin 5 weeks ago

Rasta believe in the Almighty Creator of the heaven and the earth with all the necessities to prolong life, procreation and to give thanks always.

The lecturing did not hide its intent, though some fail to see. It is obvious that mankind is now on the path of total chaos to seek control of us all. We as Rasta believe in peace, Love and harmony with the statues and principles of or Creator. What's now sad but not a surprise, is to see how the so call Christian community, no longer seem to be guided by the Bible and it's great principles.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 5 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Melvin, thanks for sharing some enlightenment on who Rastafarians really are. I am sure that your perception of the Christians will not be lost on them. Thanks for that also. We hear you, loud and clear!


lambservant profile image

lambservant 5 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

I did not comment on the restroom thing. I don't mind sharing a bathroom with a transgender female, but I am very uncomfortable with the idea that any Tom Dick or Harry (Please, no pun inteneded) can walk in with no accountability (and I don't know how that can be done) and use the bathroom. Ive not been in an all gender bathroom with more than one occupant allowed. If All gender bathrooms had urinals than that would bother me a lot!!! But most concerning to me is locker rooms. I am a woman who has experienced sexual trauma. I don't care how virtuous a man might be, it would be very distressing to have to be seen undressed, or to see in undressed. There will be people that abuse this and use it sinister ways, though it won't be the rule. More bothersome to me is I don't like the idea of my grandchildren of either gender in an all gender locker room, even if mom, dad, or grandparent is with them. Seeing the opposite sex undressed is not appropriate. And the child having to undress isn't appropriate either. If a trasgender's anatomy is complete great. I have nothing against anyone who is transgender. This isn't a hate or bigotry thing. I believe very much in civil rights, but in this culture men and women (anatomically) have been separated by common sense for decade upon decade. Not every person is safe. Not every child or woman feels safe in such situations. Just my thoughts.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Lori, thank you for your input. I am sure that many others share your thoughts. Sorry about your traumatic experience. Adults now have to practice even more caution and parents have to be vigilant for their children. Plus, we have to include these safety issues in our prayers.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 weeks ago from England

What an interesting subject, I did see the hoo ha about the gender toilet thing in America, my first reaction was, each to their own, but then I started to rethink, so much change but we have to keep on top of it, nell


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Nell, seems that the USA is the pacesetter in these kinds of changes. Sure, it is the individual's responsibility to maneuver his or her way toward what is acceptable. More challenges we could live without.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 3 weeks ago from South Africa

MsDora, Gender Sensitization reminds me of racism and supremacist ideologies. Equality should be the norm. But yes, specific 'luxuries' in accordance with needs, and because of mutual respect, have to be provided, like separate public restrooms. Excellent take on a controversial topic!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Martie, thanks for your input on this topic. Equality seems to have its own pros and cons. Like you suggest, needs provide one of the variables, adding some difficulty to the process; but respect must prevail. Thanks also for your commendation.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 weeks ago from Central Florida

I'm all for equality as far as human rights, job opportunities, equal pay based on ability (not gender), and such. However, I would not use a public restroom that is available to all people regardless of gender. Some things should just be kept private and separate.

Very interesting article, Dora. I wasn't really sure what gender sensitization is until reading this well-presented article.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Shauna, this is just a brief demo of gender sensitization; the concept is far reaching and there are many who share your concerns of separation. Thanks for your input.


ValKaras profile image

ValKaras 3 weeks ago from Canada

I think people have so comical tendency to complicate their own lives and their models of interacting. Since I don't have any statistics figures and can't generalize on the topic, let me say a word or two about my personal experiences.

As for myself, I have been both a man and a woman when it's about household chores. Cooked, changed diapers, fixed the car, painted walls, and to this date I am still doing grocery shopping, and I wash dishes because my wife cooks and its only fair that I do my part. I have been very happily married for 51 years, and it never crossed my mind "whose duty is what". I think men who fuss about it are insecure dudes, or plain lazy and liking to be served.

While in my household duties are not gender-specific, and no one is a "boss", as I am reading your hub I am laughing thinking of the most of my friends and acquaintances where women are generally calling shots. So, my experiences with people are not matching all that apparent situation that you and some commenters are talking about.

However, I certainly liked your hub, and I find it quite educational that women still have to fight for being recognized as equal. Well, some men are just insecure morons, using the "weaker" gender to prove something to themselves.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Val, thanks for sharing. It is great that your household runs as smoothly as it does. I'm sure that is the case for many, and it is unfortunate that culture and other factors do not allow it everywhere. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your input.


Mo 2 weeks ago

The CHARISMA magazine for November 2016 carries an article on gender confusion. People can be messed up by concepts like gender sensitivity which present only part of the matter. This article is a good start, and should have some follow-ups.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean Author

Mo, thanks for the idea. It is true that the more said, the more chances there are for clarification.

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