And who said that Gender does not matter in social Change?

“We are tired of hearing about Gender, What’s wrong with you Women?”
These are some of the words that many people echo when you mention GENDER. As if gender means WOMEN!!

As I attend the Digital Natives: My bubbles, My space and My Voice workshop at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, I cannot stop thinking about yesterday’s morning session on “Keyword paring”. This was an exercise that required each participant to describe their practices, policies and ideologies in one word which would be paired up with another participant’s one word description to form a topic of discussion.

Thinking about what describes me best and my ideologies was very easy, however, I had one problem; I came up with two words instead of the required one word. The words were GENDER + COMMUNITY.

The first participant I attracted was Mr. James Mlambo the founder of Cyber Gateway in Zimbabwe who had the word INCLUSION, he was interested in pairing it up with my word COMMUNITY. We both agreed on having the words merged to come up with “COMMUNITY INCLUSION”. Our focus of discussion, in relation to our subject then centered on the marginalized and disadvantaged members of the community who are many, a times ignored in projects meant to benefit communities. These are; Youth, Children and Women. It was surprising that, this group of people make up the biggest percentage of many communities yet they are the most marginalized. We asked ourselves how to make sure that there is total inclusion and participation from all the members of the community without discrimination based on age, gender or political ideologies. And the answer was in linking technology to development.

Next was a participant with the word EQUALITY, Manal Hassan from the Arab Techie Network wanted her word EQUALITY merged with My GENDER to make GENDER EQUALITY. To many people, this does not sound new but as a team we looked at it from a technology perspective. We realized that Gender influences the dynamics of any society and that there is a digital divide when it comes to technology. One Gender (Male) is more dominant over another Gender (Female) in terms of Access, use and application of Technology. Of course several factors like perception, negative cultural practices and social cultural effects are responsible for this but our interest was in directing technology for younger generations not to use it just for the sake of it but rather relating it to development.

And finally Mr. Piadamoyo Muzulu from Padare/Men’s forum on Gender and the commercial Farmers Union(CFU) came in with REVOLUTIONARY and wanted it merged with my GENDER. We focused on ‘Deconstructing Masculinity’ and why the work of women as a gender is not quantified. According to him, the only way to empower women is through liberating their minds. The underlying questions is: Does gender really matter when creating social change?

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QUOTE: "We realized that

mtotowajirani's picture

QUOTE:

"We realized that Gender influences the dynamics of any society and that there is a digital divide when it comes to technology. One Gender (Male) is more dominant over another Gender (Female) in terms of Access, use and application of Technology."

END QUOTE!

REACTION: I'm (honestly) not sure I believe this is true. I will contextualize it in the sense that technology as a platform is gender neutral in that it doesn't 'know' who is male or female rather it knows 'an end user'.

QUOTE:

"We focused on ‘Deconstructing Masculinity’ and why the work of women as a gender is not quantified"

END QUOTE!

REACTION: Do we really have to bring down one arm of gender inequality so as to achieve a balance? How about if we try 'Reinforcing Feminity' to the level where masculinity is defined?

I'm just thinking out loud...

Hiya Maureen, Read this post

Nilofar's picture

Hiya Maureen,

Read this post and had to agree with Simeon to a degree. Just a note: the definition of 'sex' involves classifying a person as either 'male' or 'female' on account of their biological orientation. Gender has nothing to do with male or female. 'Gender' has to do with masculine and feminine traits of any / a particular 'sex'.

The society in which we are a part of expects feminine traits in women, including being gentle, kind, patient, virtuous, docile, submissive, forgiving, while masculine traits like aggression, bravery, etc <actually cant think of more> are expected from men. Of course, the 'expectation' varies across age, geography, race and now, technology (with the space of tech).

@Simeon. I think, before balance can be achieved, there will be a see-saw effect. A struggle for resources, a struggle to maintain status-quo, a struggle to maintain society's traditional perceptions of gender roles, etc will go on. So, inevitably, there would be a period of 'bring down one arm of gender'.

@Maureen: However, thinking out aloud, I don't think that's the only way forward for us. Both men and women are using creative ways to break traditions, redefine taboos and create 'gender neutral' spaces for both men and women. In our own small ways, we must find such ways and not be beaten down or be demoralised.

:-) Cheers!

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