The definition of gender, gender norms and identity formed the basis of lessons and discussions at the opening of the two-week Women’s Health, Masculinities and Empowerment – Advocacy Policy Training, which is currently underway in Gaborone, Botswana, from the 1st until the 14th of September 2016.
Course director, Paula Tavrow, outlined the key themes of the short course, which aims to address gender disparities and harmful and negative masculinities which undermine and place at risk women’s health and empowerment.
Course core facilitator, Mabel Sengendo, took participants through an exercise which made them question gender socialisation in families, communities and society from an early age. Participants got to answer the question: When did you first know your gender?
The answers to this revealed how gender socialisation is rooted in the home and is perpetuated by communities and society as a whole – answers such as how a girl must sit her legs crossed came up, including how crying makes a boy child weak, yet girls are not called when they cry.
Participants were also taken through lessons on the social determinants of women’s health, particularly showing that many women still don’t have control over their sexual and reproductive health.
Today (2nd September 2016), their attention will be turned to theories of gender and power and the importance of working with men and boys to ensure improved women’s health and empowerment outcomes.