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Addressing Rural Gender Issues: A Framework for Leadership and Mobilisation

5. A Framework for Analysing a Gender Issue
If we are thinking of programme interventions to tackle any particular gender issue, then obviously we would want to identify the factors and causes which underlie the gender issue. Here it is suggested that the following headings provides a useful framework when looking around for the underlying causes of a gender issue:

Underlying Causes of a Gender Issue

Gender Gap
Gender Discrimination
Patriarchal Control
Patriarchal Belief

Gender Gap is the observable (and often measurable) gap between women and men on some important socio-economic indicator (e.g. ownership of property, access to land, enrolment at school), which is seen to be unjust, and therefore presents the clear empirical evidence of the existence of a gender issue.

Gender Discrimination is the different treatment that causes a gender gap. A gender gap is never accidental, but is caused by differential gender treatment. In a patriarchal society, this is almost always the different treatment given to girls and women that cuts them off from access to opportunities, facilities and resources. Such discriminatory treatment may be part of social custom, or may be entrenched in government administrative rules and regulations, and even in statutory law. Even when residing in religious practice or custom, these discriminatory practices may well have the status of law in many countries.

Patriarchal Control is the system of male monopoly or domination of decision making positions, at all levels of governance, which is used to maintain male dominance and gender discrimination (for the continued privilege of males).

Patriarchal Belief is the system of belief that serves to legitimise male domination and gender discrimination. Typically it relies on patriarchal interpretations of biblical/religious texts, beliefs in male biological superiority (sexism), entailing claims that the unequal gender division of rights and duties is either natural (biological), or God-given, or too difficult to change (claimed to be hopelessly and irretrievably embedded in culture!).

Coercion is even more ugly side of male domination, relying on violence against women to keep them in their place. Such violence may be domestic, or institutionalised within schools, police, army, etc. Where women's acceptance of patriarchal belief begins to waver, physical and sexual violence is the fallback method of control and subjugation.

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