CIVICS          COMMERCE             ENGLISH 


The Concept of Gender

refers to the state of being male or female. In this context, it refers
to the social relationship between men and women. It is concerned with
the roles and responsibilities of men and women in our families,
communities and country.

Different Gender Concepts
are various concepts which are used in relation to the concept of
gender. It is important to know how they interrelate or differ in the
whole process of dealing with gender issues. These concepts are:
(a) Gender equality
equality is the exercise of fairness and justice to all sexes without
discrimination or considering whether one is born male or female. It is
based on the belief that all people are equal and should therefore have
equal access to opportunities and resources. It is practiced in giving
equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities to women and men.
Activity 1
Are women and men treated equally in the community you come from? Why?

(b) Gender equity
equity is based on the principle that measures should be taken to
bridge the inequality between men and women. It is about giving priority
to women in order to reduce the imbalance that already exists.

(c) Gender roles
role is a duty or importance of a person or a group in a particular
activity or area of life. Gender roles are, therefore, duties of a
particular sex (male or female) as determined by a society.
Gender roles can be divided into reproductive and productive roles.
  1. Reproductive roles
    are the activities that include child-bearing and other
    domestic-related tasks. Some societies do not value reproductive roles
    because they have no economic return. However, these roles are very
    important for social and family stability
  2. Productive roles
    are the activities that men and women engage in to earn a living. These
    are valued in many societies because they contribute directly to the
  3. Gender stereotyping is to have a fixed
    idea about a community, group or person, but which is usually not true
    in reality. Gender stereotyping is whereby opinions are formed about
    what men and women are capable of doing. It reflects people’s attitudes
    and practices on gender division of labour. For example, some people
    believe that boys are more capable in science subjects than girls. This
    is gender stereotyping.
  4. Gender discrimination is
    a situation where one sex (male or female) is treated either better or
    worse than the other some traditions and customs discriminate against
    women and favour men. Women and girls are discriminated right from the
    family level. For example, some people do not believe that girls should
    go to school. As a result, there are differences in socio-economic and
    development activities.
  5. Gender analysis is a
    systematic effort to identify and understand the roles of women and men
    within a given society. It involves collection of gender-specific
    information and data from the community. This analysis is the first step
    towards making the gender-sensitive planning needed for promoting
    gender equality in the society.
  6. Gender mainstreaming
    is the taking into consideration gender issues in development
    activities at all levels, for example, making laws, policies and
    programs. It helps women and men to benefit equally from development
  7. Gender blindness is the inability to
    know that there are different gender roles, gender responsibilities and a
    gender-based hierarchy. This leads to the failure to realize that
    policies, programs and projects can have a different impact on men and
  8. Gender balance is majorly a human resource concept. It is about ensuring that men and women participate equally at their work places.
Gender issues in the society
issues are topics which arise for discussion because there
exists in equality among the two sexes (male and female) in a society. The
following are some of the gender issues in the society:
  • Bride price
  • Wife inheritance
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Male dominance in the family community and society
  • Unequal distribution of domestic or economic tasks between men and women.
  • Sexual harassment
Gender issues occur due to contacts with other societies, religions and types of education.

Negative socio-cultural practices
refers to the totality of society’s way of life. It includes the
customs, art, beliefs and social organization of a particular group of
people. In different societies, there are socio-cultural practices that
hinder equal participation between men and women.

1. Wife inheritance
inherit means to receive something such as a house, car, farm or money
from someone when he or she dies. Some societies in Tanzania regard
women as property that can be inherited. In these societies, when a
woman’s husband dies, another man – who is a member of her husband’s
family – can inherit her.This practice dehumanizes women and contributes
to the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other sexually
transmitted diseases.

2. Female genital mutilation
genital mutilation is the removal of the outer part of the sexual
organs of a woman. It is also called female circumcision. Some
communities in Tanzania still practice female circumcision. It is taken
as part of the initiation process in which girls are trained to become
responsible women.

Female circumcision is a negative practice because
  • It can cause women to develop complications when giving birth.
  • The
    tools which are used for circumcision are not hygienic and are used on
    many people. Hence, the spread of HIV and AIDS is very likely.
  • Bleeding after circumcision can lead to anaemia or even death.
  • Many girls drop out of school after the initiation because they consider themselves mature women.
3. Early marriage
marriage is the marriage of people who have not yet reached the legal
age for such a union. In Tanzania, this age is 18 years.

Early marriage leads to:
  • Dropping out from school, hence increasing illiteracy in the society.
  • Greater risk of death because the reproductive organs of the young mother are still immature.
  • Higher possibility of divorce and family instability as the couple has little knowledge on family affairs.
4. Discrimination against women
is a situation whereby women are treated badly in comparisonto men.
This is because of the traditions and customs that exist in some
Tanzanian communities. For example, men are the heads of families and
are also decision-makers. Women have no right to land, property,
education and employment opportunities.
practices which discriminate against women should be abolished. This is
because if women are given a chance, they can contribute a lot to the
family, community and society. They are as capable as men in any
profession necessary for national development.

5. Cruelty/violence against women
Tanzanian communities have traditions and customs which give men power
to oppress women. Domestic violence is becoming a major problem in many
families. Some husbands beat their wives because their traditions and
customs encourage this practice. Women are forced to endure this
mistreatment because they are dependent on their husbands.

6. Regarding women as sex objects
societies in Tanzania regard women as sex objects. A woman has to
remain at home so as to refresh a man when he comes from work. She is
not allowed to work outside the home. These societies do not allow girls
to get higher education, with the belief that it is a waste time and
money because girls are married off to serve their husbands.

Corrective Measures against Negative Socio-Cultural Practices
it is very important for a nation to maintain its culture, there are
some negative socio-cultural practices which should be abandoned in
order to bring equality between men and women in the society.
corrective measures should be taken jointly by the government,
community, family, non-governmental organizations and individual
citizens on the following aspects:
  1. Empowerment of women: Women should be given a chance to make decisions and exercise their rights.
  2. Mass
    People should be educated about the dangers of negative
    socio-cultural practices such as early marriage and female genital
    mutilation. This will make people aware of the harm caused by these
  3. Enhancing the existing laws on women’s rights: The
    government should enhance these laws to enable women to participate in
    the same socio-economic activities as men. For example, women should be
    able to own and inherit properties like land, houses and business so as
    to have a strong economic base.
  4. Use of mass media: Radio,
    television and newspapers can be used to educate and give people
    information concerning negative cultural practices and their effects in
    the society.
  5. Adjust the school curriculum: Students should be
    made to understand the dangers of negative cultural practices. They
    should be taught the effects these practices have on the society and
    also what would be a better way of doing things.
  6. Special
    consideration should be given to women
    in education and politics as they
    have been lagging behind for a long time. They should be given special
    seats in parliament and given special provisions in admission for higher
Exercise 1
A. Write ‘T’ for a correct statement and ‘F’ for a wrong statement.
  1. Gender roles are the same in all societies ——–
  2. Science subject for female students is a gender blind issue ————
  3. Gender equality can be achieved by empowering women in Tanzania ———
  4. Gender balance involves increasing the number of women seats in parliament ——
  5. The long term for TAWLA is Tanzania Women Land Association ——
Exercise 2
B. Fill in the blanks
  1. Write down two reasons why wife inheritance is not encouraged in our society
  2. List down four ways through which women’s right are violated in Tanzania
  3. Name five social culture practices which hinder the equal participation of men and women in the society.
  4. Distinguish between gender and sex
5. State the meaning of the following terms
  • Gender roles
  • Gender equity
  • Gender analysis
  • Gender discrimination
Exercise 3
  1. Gender oppression is the key to women dependence to men. Discuss
  2. In which ways is Tanzania implementing the process of enhancing gender equality?
  3. “Everyone in the society is born free “. Relate this statement with gender issues.
  4. Suggest any four collective measures that can be used to combat the out-dated socio-cultural practices in Tanzania.
  5. Give and explain three reasons that make female genital mutilation bad social practices.


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