Gender Socialisation

There is growing attention to why boys and girls as well as men and women have unequal access to opportunities. While evidence has pointed to nothing being intrinsically different except sex, cultural values and norms that underline socialisation processes become key.

Gender is the social role occupied by boys and girls in the society, many times influenced by socialisation agents with stereotypes that emphasises the traditional role of sex. Sociocultural factors, families and schools are determinant factors that influence determinant development and gender. Socialisation processes predominantly influence the role of girls and boys. In most of sub Saharan Africa, generally girls are assigned responsibilities associated with helping the mother with domestic chores and where resources for providing education are limited, males are often prioritised and are more likely to continue with education.

While the above shows micro-level decisions, they are the basis of inequalities experienced macro-level as limited access to education results in limited access to opportunities, perpetuate poverty and other socio economic challenges. In addition, they contribute towards perpetuating stereotypes of intrinsic female weakness while masking the reality that these are results of limited access to opportunities, which ultimately limits their participation in the development of society. It is necessary to empower families to ensure they have capacities to adapt cultural values to align with dictates of human rights, equality and equity. It is also fundamental to capacitate institutions to ensure they support this aspiration.

My own gender role was also influenced by family and school. Although in my culture most families keep the traditional way in division of labour for boys and girls, that did not exist in my family. Labour was divided in equal manner, and that helped me to learn things generally assigned to girls, like cooking, cleaning the house, carrying water, washing plates and clothes. Within my work with REPSSI, we prioritise gender equality and women empowerment with a focus on investing in the psychosocial and mental well-being of girls and boys. The approach further includes advocacy for equal access to education, health and development opportunities as a basis for nurturing, productive citizens who value equality.

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