Gender refers to the social attributes and opportunities associated with being female and male and to the relationships between women and men and girls and boys, as well as to the relations between women and those between men. These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialisation processes. They are context- and time-specific, and changeable. Gender determines what is expected, allowed and valued in a women or a man in a given context. In most societies, there are differences and inequalities between women and men in responsibilities assigned, activities undertaken, access to and control over resources, as well as decision-making opportunities. Gender is part of the broader sociocultural context. Other important criteria for sociocultural analysis include class, race, poverty level, ethnic group and age.
Gender-based assumptions and expectations generally place women at a disadvantage with respect to the substantive enjoyment of rights, such as freedom to act and to be recognised as autonomous, fully capable adults, to participate fully in economic, social and political development, and to make decisions concerning their circumstances and conditions.
Gender is also an important term to understand in the context of gender identity.
See also: gender(s)
(2) United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA (2011). Gender at the Heart of ICPD: The UNFPA Strategic Framework on Gender Mainstreaming and Women’s Empowerment.