Annex IV. Gender Related Terminology


1. Access to resources implies that women are able to use and benefit from specific resources (including material, financial, human, social and political ones).


2. Control over resources implies that women can obtain access to a resource as and can also make decisions about the use of that resource. For example, control over land means that women can access land (use it), can own land (can be the legal title-holders), and can make decisions about whether to sell or rent the land.


3. Empowerment implies people – both women and men – taking control over their lives by setting their own agendas, gaining skills (or having their own skills and knowledge recognized), increasing their self confidence, solving problems, and developing self-reliance. It is both a process and an outcome. Empowerment implies an expansion in women's ability to make strategic life choices in a context where this ability was previously denied to them.


4. The term gender refers to the social roles and relations between women and men. This includes the different responsibilities of women and men in a given culture or location. Unlike the sex of men or women, which is biologically determined, the gender roles of women and men are socially constructed and such roles can change over time and vary according to geographic location and social context.


5. An approach/strategy/framework/programme may be defined as gender-blind when the gender dimension is not considered, although there is clear scope for such consideration. This is often as a result of lack of training in, knowledge of and sensitization to gender issues, leading to an incomplete picture of the situation being addressed and, consequently, to failure.


6. An approach/strategy/framework/programme may be defined as gender-neutral when the human dimension is not relevant, and thus gender is not an implication.

Gender analysis

7. A tool to assist in strengthening development planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and to make programmes and projects more efficient and relevant. Ignoring gender issues has resulted in gender blind development strategies that have caused many development programmes and projects to fail in reaching their principal goals and delivering the desired benefits to the target population and have sometimes led to unintended negative impacts.

8. Within the United Nations system, gender analysis has been established as a basic requirement for the gender mainstreaming strategy. The current situation of rural women and men in relation to different issues and problems and the impact of agricultural and rural development policies, legislation, and projects and programmes on women and men respectively – and on the relations between them – should be analysed before any decisions are made.

9. Gender analysis should go beyond cataloguing differences to identifying inequalities and assessing relationships between women and men.

10. Gender analysis helps us to frame questions about women and men's roles and relations in order to avoid making assumptions about who does what, when and why. The aim of such analysis is to formulate development interventions that are better targeted to meet both women's and men's needs and constraints.

Gender equality

11. Gender equality entails the concept that all human beings, both men and women, are free to develop their personal abilities and make choices without the limitations set by stereotypes, rigid gender roles, or prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behaviours, aspirations and needs of women and men are considered, valued and favoured equally. It does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.

Gender mainstreaming

12. In UNEP, gender mainstreaming involves ensuring that attention to gender equality is a central part of all environmental and sustainable development interventions, including analyses, policy advice, advocacy, legislation, research, and the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects.

13. Gender mainstreaming has been defined by the ECOSOC Agreed Conclusions, in its resolution 1997/2 of 18 July 1997, as: “a strategy for mak ing women’s, as well as men’s, concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and social spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.


14. Resources are means and goods, including those that are economic (household income) or productive (land, equipment, tools, work, credit); political (capability for leadership, information and organization); and time.

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  • United Nations Environment Programme