In the contemporary anthropological and sociological debate, the term gender has replaced the term sex to indicate the social, cultural and psychological typing of the differences between males and females.
The concept of gender was introduced in the 1960s by US doctors R. Stoller and J. Money of the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to distinguish the psychosexual orientation (gender) of a person from his anatomical sex (sex). According to Heywood (2015), gender is thus a social construct and usually operates through stereotypes of “femininity” and “masculinity”. The theory of gender in the course of the last decades of the 20th century, gave rise to a rather lively debate, triggered above all by the theoretical production of the women’s movement starting from the 1970s and that of the feminist academics involved in Women’s studies projects. Simone de Beauvoir, the French writer, philosopher and feminist activist, is identified as an essential point of reference for the theory of deconstruction of biological determinism, which is mainly embodied in his work The Second Sex (1949). His thought, brilliantly summarised in one of her most famous quotes “one is not born, but rather becomes a woman” became the main comfort for the movements of her time, and today it is the pillar of studies that intend to emphasise the difference between sex and gender. The woman is the result of a culture, a social construction. Concepts of female nature are therefore anthropological constructs, which are based on biological motivations: the male and the female are anatomically distinct, and with the concept of gender society has been giving man and woman certain established roles. The woman has been the victim of preconceptions and uncritical beliefs about her intellectual and physical ability, and here deconstructivity theories underline the fallacy of such mental settings, identifying and exchanging what belongs to nature with something that is instead produced by culture. This entire discourse is what we can find with evidence in the legitimisation of the patriarchal system, what people intend to undermine with the feminist movements. Among scholars of gender, professor Elisabeth Prugl distinguishes the use of gender in at least three ways, each of which has implications for understanding power (2001). As she notes, some scholars treat gender as an empirical variable that explains social, political and economic inequalities. Whereby gender is understood as the biological (sex) differences, and power rests in social, political and economic hierarchies.
The analysis of gender goes beyond personal identity and feminists argue that most aspects of society, and bodies of knowledge, are gendered: politics, art, medicine, science, and work itself are already conceptualised in gender-laden terms (Goodwin 2014).
The concept of gender is closely associated with International Relations (IR) and Politics since it is linked to some enormously important issue as inequality between women and men, the gender gap and the participation of women in the political life of a country.
According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Italy is the country that has seen the greatest progress on equal opportunities in Europe in the last ten years. With 62.1 points, Italy has accumulated 12.9 more in a decade.
However, Europe proceeds slowly, reaching 66.2 points, only 4 more in a decade, explains the institute, with Sweden at the top of the ranking (82.6 points) and Greece slipped to last place (50 points).
The index is divided into six main domains (work, money, knowledge, time, power and health) and two satellite domains (violence against women and intersectional inequalities). The EIGE highlights the areas where improvements are needed and assists policy-makers in developing more effective gender equality measures.
“We are advancing at a snail’s pace, we are still a long way from being a gender equality society, there is room for improvement in all the countries of the European Union, and in some areas the gap has widened compared to ten years ago, our gender equality index clearly shows if and how many governmental policies respond effectively to the specific needs of women and men, “said Virginija Langbakk, head of EIGE.
The global gender gap will take 100 years to close at the current rate of change (Global Gender Gap Report 2017) The World Economic Forum’s annual report into gender equality found increasing inequality at the workplace and in political representation, contributing to its calculation that it would take a century to reach overall gender parity compared with its estimate last year of 83 years. According to the WEF’s metrics — which take into account disparities between men and women in health and education, as well as politics and the workplace — the world has closed 68 percent of the gap between total gender inequality and total equality.
Equality between women and men is one of the fundamental principles enshrined in international law.
The objectives of “gender non-discrimination” would have – conditional – the aim of ensuring equal opportunities and equality of treatment in all fields: from work to the economy, to the social sector, to institutions.
Despite the numerous worldwide initiatives, like the HeForShe movement created by the United Nations Women and the Equal Pay Day demonstrations, the prevailing practice in many countries demonstrates that traditionally, economy and gender equality are considered as two separate sectors independently analysed and followed by different authorities and this approach he cannot recognize the links between the two areas.
In the world, women earn an average of 23% less than men. The United Nations affirms that the phenomenon is “the biggest theft in history”. According to the data collected by the organisation, there are no distinctions of areas, sectors, ages or qualifications.
“There is not just one country, nor one sector, where women have the same salaries as men,” said United Nations Councillor Anuradha Seth.
Overall the organisation’s estimate is that for every dollar earned by a man, a woman earns an average of seventy-seven cents and the difference in salary between men and women generally increases according to age, especially when women have children.
The existence of wage discrimination between women and men is due to the characteristics of the labour market and to the conditions of female employment (differences in education, vocational training, discontinuous careers, difficulties in progressing at the top, care work, discrimination direct and indirect etc.) and, consequently, of gender pension differentials that translate into different social security treatments, which make older women normally poorer than their peers.
In politics, the participation of women is still much lower compared to men’s participation. Since 2015 the number of women Heads of State or Heads of Government has decreased from 19 to 17 (UN Women). Our society can be considered as a patriarchal society, a system of oppression, where the political field is male dominated and it is often difficult for a woman to “break the glass ceiling” as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would say.
In our group, we did not hesitate when we had to decide which concept to analyse. We all agreed that the concept of gender was linked to very actual issues regarding the world of politics and international relations which closely affect women. We were very interested in exploring the nature of the concept of gender and the various feminist movements that seek to undermine the foundations of our patriarchal society. During the Christmas holidays, we carried out individual research: Ray was very determined to explain and examine the many gender identity definitions since it was a topic she really cares about. Lin and I decided to focus mainly on the inequality between men and women, the so-called gender gap and the relations between gender and politics. We met together before the start of the lessons to set up the poster. We worked very well together. I took on the role of organiser because of my lack of creativity, we divided the poster into two parts, in one we explained the various meanings of gender because it is impossible to understand the connection between gender and international relations if the true nature of gender is not explored first. In the second part of the poster, we have analysed with recent examples how this concept touches each of us. although I have also contributed to the creative part of the poster the next time I will try to involve myself more in the creative part of the setting up.
The two posters that have most impressed me are those concerning hegemony and that of human rights. I believe both concepts are tremendously current. Both the concept of hegemony, that can be either cultural, military or economic or one of human rights which in this special historical moment we witness their violation in different parts of the world. Both posters were extremely exhaustive, giving information about the concepts analysed and the authors who examine the concept and also on the artistic level are very well cared for and affect anyone who looks at them.