“Gender refers to the social differences and relations between men and women which are learned, vary widely among societies and cultures, and change over time.”
“The term “gender” refers to the socially constructed roles and responsibilities assigned to men and women in a given culture or location.”
“Gender refers to the socio – cultural definitions of man and woman, the way societies distinguish men and women, and assign them social roles.”
Equality is, According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “the state of being equal, especially in status, rights etc.
Equity is, According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, “the value of the shares issued by company.”
Gender Equality, equality between men and women, entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behavior, aspirations, and needs of men and women are considered, valued and favored equally.
Gender Equity means fairness of treatment for men and women, according to their respective needs. This may need men and women, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.
ABC Of Women Workers’ Rights And Gender Equality, ILO, 2000, p.48.
Gender mainstreaming, known also as mainstreaming a gender perspective, is “the process of assessing the implications for men and women of any planned action including any legislation, policies, and programmes in any area and at all levels.”
CONCEPT OF GENDER QUALITY
There are two concepts of gender equality. First one is Islamic and the second one is western and there is a hell of difference between both of them. Nowadays our society is greatly under the influence of western culture. As a result, the traditional role of Muslim women has in particular undergone a noticeable change. The changes in the male – female relationship and freedom of women in economic and sexual matters have posed a great threat to the traditional pattern of Muslim culture which, in fact, is the most crucial problem of the 20th century Muslim world. There are several verses in Quran which clearly shows that the Islamic social system does not grant women equality in the western sense.
Historically, in West, Mary Wallstone, wife of aBritaincommunist philosopher, presented the concept of gender equality first time in her book, “Vindication of the Rights of Women”, published in 1972. But Islam has given the concept of gender equality 1400 years ago.
There are number of evils exists in West just because of their concept of gender equality. It is really very perplexing that on the one hand, man of West experiments in the core of sea, harnesses the space and plays with galaxies but, on the other hand, the staus of his women is very shameful.
GENDER AND ISLAM
According to the Qur’an, God created woman and man simultaneously, of like substance, and in like manner. Several verses state that
God created man and women from a single life-cell or being. Both man and women have male and female components and both together form the human species.
It is a clear teaching of the Qur’an that man and woman are equal in the sight of God, and the Qur’an uses both feminine and masculine terms and imagery to describe the creation of humanity from a single source.
Finally, woman was not created to serve the ends of man, nor vice versa: both were created to serve God’s purpose. Both are called upon equally to be righteous, and women and men are “members” and “protectors” of each other.
Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanity as there are in her partner. To this equal partnership in the reproduction of human kind God says:
“O mankind! Verily We have created your from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other...” (Qur'an, 49:13; cf. 4:1).
She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds. She is acknowledged as an independent personality, in possession of human qualities and worthy of spiritual aspirations, her human nature is neither inferior to nor deviant from that of man. Both are members of one another.
In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern would of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.
This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights – but not identical – shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.
The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, and something that has no similarity in any other system.
We are all of this view that education is the ultimate solution to overcome gender inequality. I think this is not only formal education which can pave the way for equality.
The known world literature is a by-product of patriarchal socio-economic set-ups that attempt to consolidate man’s superiority position his supremacy. During education, when a male student study poetry and fiction and writer gives him upper edge. Will it not be the situation that his superiority complex grows further? In fiction take the example of Ismat Chughtai and Sa’adat Hasan Manto. They brought into vogue many notorious Freudian concepts that the Muslim society was not accustomed to. Both of them paved the way for new liberal thought in literature. Subsequently, other writers also took up sexual subjects in their work quite boldly.
The role of media in this context is not contented, because in media, they are just exploiting issues of women instead of giving solutions to these problems. They have just made women as a glamorous entity. They have forgotten that she is not just a pretty face; she is lot more than that. Nowadays media can play a vital role in creating awareness among common masses of the society.
- Kamla Bhasin, 2000, Understanding Gender. Dehli, Pauls Press.
- Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary
- A summary review of UNESCO’s accomplishments since the 4th world conference on women (Beijing 1995)
- Handouts provided by Madam Ra’ana Malik