Recognising women's contribution to the social-moral fabric in the 21st century: countering violence and building gender respect

SOURCE: UNESCO Addressing Inequalities Global Thematic Consultation
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): M.Arnot, S.Swartz
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7481

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Constructing gender respect is a highly problematic goal, yet one that is essential to the development of both sexes and to gender equality programmes post-2015. This paper argues for the importance of taking a 'critical bifocal' look at both the power structures and the lived experience of youth struggling to achieve respect. Research evidence collected by a sequence of in-depth qualitative Cambridge research projects on poverty, gender and education in Kenya, South Africa, India and Ghana highlights the many interconnections between gender power and gender respect. A firm focus is needed to engage with the form that gender respect takes in different cultural contexts, to promote women's contribution to the socio-moral fabric as teachers and mothers, and to recognise girls' difficult negotiations to achieve respect in their own right. The paper also considers young men's search for respect which, although different from that of girls, impinges directly on them. Male strategies for gaining respect and countering disrespect can lead to violence. Our research suggests that what is needed is to address and construct workable contextualised forms of 'gender respect' that are mutually advantageous for both sexes, the condition for equality.