Topic 1 - Gender Roles

   This document has been made available in electronic format
           by the International Co-operative Alliance.

                ILO - ICA Training Package 

                 AN ILO - ICA PERSPECTIVE

            2 Hours on Gender Issues in Cooperatives:
 An introductory session on gender issues for cooperative leaders

Topic 1.   Gender roles. Personal perceptions of gender issues.
           Women's "double day". (Three steps. Total estimated
           duration: 60 minutes)


     Step One:  Introduction: The gender concept and approach,
                and gender roles (15 minutes)

The trainer/moderator introduces the theme "gender
sensitization". The aim of gender sensitization is to make people
aware of the power relations between men and women in society and
to understand the importance of affording women and men equal
opportunities and treatment. In this particular context, the
purpose is, furthermore, to make people aware that there are also
gender-related problems within the cooperative sector and that
women must be more involved in cooperatives in order to
strengthen the cooperative movement and enhance the financial and
social position of women. Moreover, one must ensure the equitable
distribution of the benefits of cooperative development. 

The trainer/moderator will explain what is meant by "gender" and
"gender relations" and the "gender and development approach". The
trainer/moderator can use the Background Information provided on
page 14.  

The trainer/moderator may be asked why the term gender is used
when one is actually referring to women's issues. It can be
pointed out that these issues concern both men and women. Women
must be seen in relation to men in society and not as an isolated
group. However, the promotion of gender equality, usually implies
identifying and addressing women's needs, as women are generally
more vulnerable than men on the same socio-economic levels.

Transparency 1A and 1B should then be displayed to illustrate the
gender concept and gender roles. A role is the pattern of
behaviour of a person and embraces not only a person's position
and rights in a community or society, but also his or her duties
and obligations.

The trainer/moderator should give an example which is typical to
the situation in the society/community in question. For example,
in a traditional village a woman's sphere of activities evolves
in and around the home where her main responsibility is the
welfare and care of the family. She participates in village life
according to the prevailing customs and traditions, but seldom
engages in economic activities outside the home. Today, however,
due to social and economic changes in society, many women are
engaged in economic activities outside their homes and villages.
Their traditional roles have thus changed and this has resulted
in a change in our perceptions of these roles.

     Step Two:  Personal attitudes (30 minutes)

Now that the basic concepts of gender, gender relations and
gender roles are understood by participants, the
trainer/moderator can proceed to the next item, namely people's
attitudes and gender bias. Discriminatory traditions and
practices that exist in a society are sustained by people's
prejudicial attitudes. These attitudes are influenced by one's
socio-cultural environment and, just as the socio-cultural, geo-
political and economic environment can change, so can attitudes.

The aim of Step Two is to enable participants to reflect on their
own personal value systems and perceptions of gender issues and
the effect that discriminatory attitudes can have on women's
position in society when translated into public policies. For
example, the fact that some people consider a women's place to
be in the home, could result in the discriminatory practice of
women being hired only if there are no men available to do the
work. Or, if women are regarded as supplementary income-earners
(because their husbands are the main breadwinners), this could
result in the general acceptance of women being paid less than
men for the same work.

The suggested method for Step Two is that the trainer/moderator
organizes so-called "buzzing discussions". Buzzing discussions
is the term used for discussions between two persons sitting next
to each other as the discussions will sound rather like the
buzzing of bees. The trainer/moderator should be able to provoke
lively, buzzing discussions by presenting the following
statements to the participants, and asking them to give their own
personal views on these issues to the person sitting next to
them. These statements are also found on transparency 2A and 2B.

-    Men are the heads of households and all decisions that
     affect the family should therefore be taken by them.

-    Men and women should share household responsibilities and

-    A women's place is primarily in the home. Women should
     therefore concentrate on being housewives and child bearers
     and not get involved in economic activities.

-    Women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.

-    Efforts should be made to facilitate women's involvement in
     productive or economic activities.

-    Cooperative education and training are more important for
     male members as they are the main participants in

-    Women and men should be equal partners in cooperative

-    Women should have equal access to training and education
     facilities and participate in decision-making.

-    Women do not have the right personal characteristics to
     assume leadership or managerial positions as they are
     generally too emotional, frivolous, indecisive and lack

-    Women are capable of assuming leadership roles.

The trainer/moderator should stop the discussions after about 5-
10 minutes and get the participants to comment on their
discussions and diverging views. The trainer/moderator should
make a note of the prevailing attitudes and then ask participants
if gender roles are static? Have changing socio-economic
conditions affected our perception of gender roles? 

People's values are influenced/conditioned by the society in
which they live. We attach values to the roles of women and men.
As roles are not biologically determined but determined by socio-
economic and cultural conditions, they can change. When roles
change our personal value systems also change.

     Step Three: Women's "double day" (15 minutes)

The trainer/moderator may here wish to display the drawing of a
woman carrying a bundle of "roles" (transparency 3). This drawing
is intended to visualize the now widely used concept: a woman's
"double day". The drawing may also enable the trainer/moderator
to pose the question of whether this is a fair distribution of
roles and responsibilities? On transparency 4, the expression
"double day" is explained. Participants should understand the
difficulties women face as a result of their heavy workload.
Special mention can also be made of the practical problems some
women may face in attending evening meetings or training courses
far from their homes etc. 

The terms "productive" and "reproductive" roles, which often
appear in gender analysis, can be used by the trainer/moderator
if considered appropriate. These terms have, however, not been
used here as the session is rather short and the introduction of
too many new terms may distract the listeners from the essential
issue which, in this case, is women's heavy workload or "double
day" (also referred to as women's "dual" or "multiple" roles).

The trainer/moderator can ask participants how each one addresses
the issue of women's "double day" or heavy work burden at home
and in the workplace. And can suggest that:

-    in the home men and women can share responsibilities e.g.
     housework, childcare, food preparations etc. and,

-    at the workplace one should be mindful of women's heavy
     workload and multiple roles when planning and organizing
     activities such as training programmes, meetings, projects,