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Concepts and Terminologies

  • Acid Violence: Acid violence is the deliberate use of acid to attack another human being. The victims of acid violence are overwhelmingly women and children, and attackers often target the head and face in order to maim, disfigure and blind. Acid has a devastating effect on the human body, often permanently blinding the victim and denying them the use of their hands. As a consequence, many everyday tasks such as working and even mothering are rendered extremely difficult if not impossible.
  • Child Marriage: A legal or customary union between two people, in which one or both spouses are below the age of 18. The practice largely affects girls and has graver consequences for them as well. Also referred to as early marriage or forced marriage.
  • Child Soldiers: Child soldiers are children (individuals under the age of 18) who are used for any military purpose. Some are in their late teens, while others may be as young as four. They are not only boys – many are girls.
  • Culture: The distinctive patterns of ideas, beliefs, and norms which characterise the way of life and relations of a society or group within a society
  • Dowry/ Dowry Death: Dowry refers to the customary money or gifts that the bride/bride’s family gives to the groom/groom’s family upon her wedding. Dowry death happens when the woman is killed by the groom or the in-laws for inadequate dowry, or driven to suicide for incessant harassment from the groom or in-laws for more dowry.
  • Female Genital Mutilation: Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the cutting, or partial or total removal, of the external female genitalia for cultural, religious, or other non-medical reasons. It is usually performed on girls between the ages of four and 10. It is also called female circumcision.
  • Gender Analysis: The systematic gathering and examination of information on gender differences and social relations in order to identify, understand and redress inequities based on gender
  • Gender Discrimination: The systematic, unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender, which denies them rights, opportunities or resources
  • Gender Division of Labor: The socially determined ideas and practices which define what roles and activities are deemed appropriate for women and men
  • Gender Equality and Equity: Gender equality denotes women having the same opportunities in life as men, including the ability to participate in the public sphere. Gender equity denotes the equivalence in life outcomes for women and men, recognising their different needs and interests, and requiring a redistribution of power and resources
  • Gender Identity: The Yogyakarta Principles defines gender identity as: each person’s deeply felt individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth. Gender identity includes the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.
  • Gender Mainstreaming: An organisational strategy to bring a gender perspective to all aspects of an institution’s policy and activities, through building gender capacity and accountability
  • Gender Needs: Shared and prioritised needs identified by women that arise from their common experiences as a gender
  • Gender Planning: The technical and political processes and procedures necessary to implement gender-sensitive policy
  • Gender Relations: Hierarchical relations of power between women and men that tend to disadvantage women
  • Gender Training: A facilitated process of developing awareness and capacity on gender issues, to bring about personal or organisational change for gender equality
  • Gender Violence: Any act or threat by men or male-dominated institutions, that inflicts physical, sexual, or psychological harm on a woman or girl because of their gender
  • Gender-based violence (GBV): Gender-based violence (GBV) is the general term used to capture violence that occurs as a result of the normative role expectations associated with each gender, along with the unequal power relationships between the (…) genders, within the context of a specific society.
  • Gender: Gender refers to people’s internal perception and experience of maleness and femaleness, and the social construction that allocates certain behaviours into male and female roles which vary across history, societies, cultures and classes. Gender is hence strongly linked to society’s expectations and is not exclusively a biological matter.
  • Hegemonic Masculinity: The form of masculinity which is culturally dominant in a given setting is called ‘hegemonic masculinity’. Hegemonic signifies a position of cultural authority and leadership, not total dominance; other forms of masculinity persist alongside. Also, the hegemonic masculinity need not be the most common form of masculinity but rather the most visible. Hegemonic masculinity is hegemonic not just in relation to other masculinities, but in relation to the gender order as a whole. In other words, while men as a group enjoy a set of privileges and power vis-à-vis women, hegemonic masculinities appropriates for itself the largest share of these privileges and power.
  • Heteronormativity: Refers to the assumption that there are two complementary sexes, male and female, and that heterosexuality is the normal and the only acceptable sexual union. When heterosexuality is perceived as the norm, people with different sexual orientations or trans* or any other gender non-conforming identities, are often seen and treated as a threat to this order.
  • Homophobia: The fear, unreasonable anger, intolerance or/and hatred toward homosexuality. Homophobia can appear in various ways:Institutionalised Homophobia: when governments and authorities are acting against equality for LGB people. This can be hate speech from public elected persons, ban on pride events and other forms of discrimination of LGB people.
  • Homosexual: People are classified as homosexual on the basis of their gender and the gender of their sexual partner(s). When the partner’s gender is the same as the individual’s, then the person is categorised as homosexual. It is recommended to use the terms lesbian and gay men instead of homosexual people. The terms lesbian and gay man are being considered neutral and positive, and the focus is on the identity instead of being sexualised. Lastly, the term homosexual has for many a historical connotation of pathology.
  • Honour Killing: “Honour” killing is a misnomer because there is no honour involved or gained in killing anyone. But, it is a term used to describe the act of killing a member of a family by other members (or by hired killers) because the victim disobeyed the wishes of the family (e.g. decisions as primarily taken by the male members of the family) or acted without consent of the family. This could also happen to members of a social group if they are seen to go against traditions and the social order, e.g. marrying outside the caste or class, etc.
  • Internalised Homophobia: When lesbian, gay men and bisexual people are considering and accepting heterosexuality as the correct way of being and living.
  • Intersex: A term that relates to a range of physical traits or variations that lie between ideals of male and female. Intersex people are born with physical, hormonal or genetic features that are neither wholly female nor wholly male; or a combination of female and male; or neither female nor male.
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Intimate Partner Violence is a term for actions taken by a current or former spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend to coerce and control. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is sometimes called “domestic violence,” but it is not restricted to people living in the same home. Intimate partner violence commonly includes physical violence and intimidation, forced or coerced sex, verbal and psychological abuse, and economic manipulation, often in combination with one another
  • Intra-Household Resource Distribution: The dynamics of how different resources that are generated within or which come into the household, are accessed and controlled by its members
  • Lesbian: A woman who is sexually and emotionally attracted to women.
  • Masculinity: Masculinity refers to the socially produced but embodied ways of being male. Its manifestations include manners of speech, behaviour, gestures, social interaction, a division of tasks ‘proper’ to men and women (‘men work in offices, women do housework’), and an overall narrative that positions it as superior to its perceived antithesis, femininity. The discourse of masculinity as a dominant and ‘superior’ gender position is produced at a number of sites and has specific consequences for women as well as those men who may not fit into the dominant and valourised models of masculinity.
  • National Machineries for Women: Agencies with a mandate for the advancement of women established within and by governments for integrating gender concerns in development policy and planning
  • Patriarchy: Systemic societal structures that institutionalise male physical, social and economic power over women
  • Rape: Rape is generally understood to involve sexual penetration of a person by force and/or without that person’s consent. Rape is committed overwhelmingly by men and boys, usually against women and girls, and sometimes against other men and boys.
  • Sex-Selection: Sex selection is any act of identifying the sex of the foetus and elimination of the foetus if it is of the unwanted sex.
  • Sex: Sex refers to the biological characteristics that define humans as female or male. While these sets of biological characteristics are not mutually exclusive, as there are individuals who possess both, they tend to differentiate humans as males and females. In general use in many languages, the term sex is often used to mean “sexual activity”, but for technical purposes in the context of sexuality and sexual health discussions, the above definition is preferred.
  • Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a sex-based behavior that is unwelcome and offensive to its recipient. For sexual harassment to exist, these two conditions must be present. Sexual harassment may take two forms: 1) Quid Pro Quo, when a job benefit – such as a pay rise, a promotion, or even continued employment – is made conditional on the victim acceding to demands to engage in some form of sexual behaviour; or; 2) hostile working environment in which the conduct creates conditions that are intimidating or humiliating for the victim.
  • Sexual Health: Sexual Health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence. For sexual health to be attained and maintained, the sexual rights of all persons must be respected, protected and fulfilled.
  • Sexual Minorities: A term more commonly used in the Global South and East which refers not to specific identities or sexual orientations but to how individuals and groups are perceived.
  • Sexual Orientation: Each person’s capacity for profound emotional and sexual attraction to individuals of a different gender, the same gender or more than one gender, and to the capacity to have sexual relations with them.
  • Sexual Violence: Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence and encompasses any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, unwanted sexual comments or advances, or acts to traffic, or otherwise directed against a person’s sexuality using coercion, by any person regardless of their relationship to the victim, in any setting. Sexual violence takes multiple forms and includes rape, sexual abuse, forced pregnancy, forced sterilization, forced abortion, forced prostitution, trafficking, sexual enslavement, forced circumcision, castration and forced nudity. Sexual violence includes sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It refers to any act, attempt, or threat of a sexual nature that result, or is likely to result in, physical, psychological and emotional harm. Sexual violence is a form of gender-based violence
  • Sexuality: Sexuality can be defined as a central aspect of being human throughout life encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality is experienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes, values, behaviors, practices, roles and relationships. While sexuality can include all of these dimensions, not all of them are always experienced or expressed. Sexuality is influenced by the interaction of biological, psychological, social, economic, political, cultural, legal, historical, religious and spiritual factors.
  • Social Justice: Fairness and equity as a right for all in the outcomes of development, through processes of social transformation
  • Trafficking in Persons: Trafficking in Persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
  • Transgender: Trans people who live permanently in their preferred gender, without necessarily needing to undergo any medical interventions. Until recently, this term was also the primary umbrella term referring to all trans people, but this use is now losing favour to the term ‘trans’ which is perceived to be more inclusive of all trans communities. ILGA-Europe is using the wider inclusive term trans in its work.
  • Transsexual: refers to people who identifies entirely with the gender role opposite to the sex assigned to at birth and seeks to live permanently in the preferred gender role. This often goes along with strong rejection of their physical primary and secondary sex characteristics and wish to align their body with their preferred gender. Transsexual people might intend to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment treatment (which may or may not involve hormone therapy or surgery).
  • WID/ GAD: The WID (or Women in Development) approach calls for greater attention to women in development policy and practice, and emphasises the need to integrate them into the development process In contrast, the GAD (or Gender and Development) approach focuses on the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women and emphasises the need to challenge existing gender roles and relations
  • Witch-hunting: Witch-hunting is the act of labelling a woman as a “witch” and projecting her to be dangerous to the community as a way to isolate, punish and pit her against other members of the community and undermine her authority. Women labelled as witches are harmed and killed as a way to eliminate the ‘danger’ to the community.
  • Women’s Empowerment: A ‘bottom-up’ process of transforming gender power relations, through individuals or groups developing awareness of women’s subordination and building their capacity to challenge it
  • Women’s Human Rights: The recognition that women’s rights are human rights and that women experience injustices solely because of their gender