Learnings from a gender sensitisation workshop

Kopila Thapa

November 10th, 2016

Practical Action is committed to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment through all its work; through programmes, knowledge sharing, advocacy, external communications and organisational development.  It ensures gender considerations in all of its four programme areas –agriculture, food security and markets; urban water, sanitation and waste; energy access and disaster risk reduction.

To stress the importance of gender analysis and develop gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) related project activities and indicators, Practical Action organised a gender sensitisation workshop on 14-15 September 2016 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The workshop was facilitated by Kamla Bhasin, a feminist activist and social scientist. Her work focuses on gender, education, human development and media. She is an advocate for equality between genders.

Kamla Bhasin facilitating the workshop.

Kamla Bhasin facilitating the workshop.

The first part of the workshop  focused on the concept of gender and inclusion, masculinity and patriarchy, power relations, gender roles and work burdens, gender division of labour and gender relations on social inclusions.

The second part was concerned with gender integration in project management cycle, the role of managers including monitoring and evaluation . The workshop aimed at sensitising the concept of gender and social inclusion on contemporary issues at global, regional and local levels and enhancing the capacity of the Practical Action’s managers to mainstream GESI during the project management cycle.

More specifically, the workshop focused on lecture method. Some short movies related to gender based violence and One Billion Rising (OBR)  campaign were shown.

Brainstorming sessions

The workshop included different types of brainstorming sessions.  Male and female participants were divided into different groups and participants were asked to share their painful experience as a ‘man’ or a ‘woman’.

Female participants in group work

Female participants in group work

The entire group shared their experiences about gender when they were children. The women’s group found their life privileged before getting married and expressed that life after marriage somehow changed due to the expectation of domestic work from women.  The group came up with the outcome that the family is the basic unit of society and it is probably the most patriarchal. A man (father, grandfather, brother and so on) is considered the head of the household within the family and they control women’s sexuality, production, reproduction and mobility. The family where one learns the first lessons on hierarchy, discrimination, etc., continues these patriarchal values and so does the next generation.

Group presentation by the male participants

Group presentation by the male participants

Changed forms of violence

There are different types of violence and the forms of violence are changing based on time, regions and countries, for example female genital mutilations are high in African countries. Similarly gender based violence, sexual exploitation and harmful traditional practices are also forms of violence. These days cybercrime and child pornography are also types of violence.  Agricultural and crafts profession are on a decline and this might be the cause of new kinds of violence and engaging women in prostitution.

Masculinity and patriarchy

Masculinity is all about power and femininity is exactly the opposite of masculinity. Masculinity is social definition given to boys and men by societies. Nature makes male or female, and it gives the biological definition but society makes masculine or feminine. Patriarchy means the rule of father or the ‘patriarch’ and originally it was used to describe a specific type of ‘male dominated society’. In Asian context, it is used more generally to refer to male domination and the power relationship by which men dominate the women. As a result women are kept subordinate in a number of ways. In the context of South Asia, so called ‘Patriarchy’.

Gender is all about ideology and mindset!

Origin of patriarchy

The origin of patriarchy dates from the beginning of human history – the barbarian age, pre-civilisation. Patriarchy, a concept that we experience in our lives, explains women’s subordinate position. During that period men developed weapons and women developed tools. Then women got involved in agriculture, crafts, social relationships and their mobility became limited to the domestic sphere. Gradually, the importance of women in the hunter gatherer economy was enhanced by the significance attached to the reproductive role of women. Female sexuality was not a threat and did not have to be managed since the community depended upon it. Female reproductive power was highly valued and female power was confined to motherhood.  And the male was involved in public spheres.

Gender and gender relations and the gender division of labour are also not the same everywhere. It is specific to culture, location and time.

Gender division of labour

Gender division of labour also leads to hierarchy and inequality because men and women are not valued or rewarded equally. Even these days in some countries feminists are fighting for ‘equal pay for equal work’.  The allocation of certain tasks to men and women in productive processes also leads to issue of command and control over resources. Generally, women have three types of work in our societies.

1. Reproductive work (Biological reproduction and social reproduction)
2. Productive work
3. Community and social work
Even in this work there are certain roles divided between men and women. Gender division of labour leads to gender division of types of work and standard gendered labour.

A highly effective workshop, I have ever attended”- Vishwa B. Amatya – Head of Programme, Energy

Last two days gave us an enlightening experience. This has been an eye opener.”   Archana Gurung- Communications Officer

Definitely a very fruitful time with Kamla Bhasin over the two days period. An amazing person we all fell in love with. ‘Man of quality is not afraid of equality’. We need more men to change now! “Strike, Dance and Rise Ladies”. Khommaya Thapa Pun – HR Manager

A group photo with facilitator

A group photo with facilitator

The workshop was found to be a productive way to communicate the importance of gender analysis. Overall it supported the GESI planning process while developing the GESI related project activities and indicators.

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