November 9, 2017

Glossary of terms


Ver.1.2 14 JULY 2012

Sex and gender ( Note this definition comes from a university medical site.

Sex refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs.

Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine or feminine.

The Gender Department of FAO provides a list of definitions of gender roles, gender relations, equality, etc.

Gender (definitions in a slightly amended version of that given by the FAO Aquaculture glossary (, source Mosse 1993).

Gender refers to the qualitative and interdependent character of women’s and men’s position in society.

According to Williams et al (2005):

Gender roles vary across time, place and region according to changing values, practices and technologies. Gender roles and responsibilities are largely socially constructed and are the basis for the structure and organisation of women and men’s differential relationships with their environments, the economy, their resource utilisation patterns and strategies.

Gender relations are the relations of power and dominance that structure the life chances of women and men.

Gender equality (1) is when women and men enjoy equal rights, opportunities and entitlements in civil and political life.

Gender equality (2), equality between men and women, 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 and prejudices. Gender equality means that the different behaviour, 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. (International Labor Organization 2000, p. 34-5).

Gender equity (1) means fairness and impartiality in the treatment of women and men in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities.

Gender equity (2) means fairness of treatment for women and men, according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities. (International Labor Organization 2000, p. 34-5).

Equality vs Equity

Gender equality  is usually used when referring to the state achieved, while gender equity is used when referring to the process or treating people the same way, irrespective of gender.

Gender mainstreaming

The process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action including legislation, policies, and programmes, in any area and at all levels. (UNESCO 2000)

Women in Development (WID) approach.

The WID Approach focused on how women could be better integrated into the existing ‘men/male made world’ and corresponding development initiatives. Targeting women’s productive work to the exclusion of their reproductive work, this approach was characterised by income-generating projects for women which failed to address the systemic causes of gender inequality. (Commonwealth Plan of action on Gender and Development, 1995).

Gender and Development (GAD) approach.

.. focuses on the socially constructed basis of differences between men and women and emphasizes the need to challenge existing gender roles and relations. (Reeves and Baden 2000) Link

Human capacity development (HCD)

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Human Capacity Development strategic framework for fisheries (FAO 2005)

 the process by which individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and societies develop their abilities – both individually and collectively – to set and achieve objectives, perform functions, solve problems and to develop the means and conditions required to enable this process.


According to the definition in Wikipedia (but see note [1]):

Intersectionality is a feminist sociological theory first highlighted by Kimberlé Crenshaw (1989)[1]. Intersectionality is a methodology of studying “the relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations” (McCall 2005). The theory suggests—and seeks to examine how—various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical conceptualizations of oppression within society, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, and religion-based bigotry, do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate, creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.


[1] Earlier researchers, however, articulated the theoretical basis, such as Angela Davis in 1983 in “Women, Race and Class,” Vintage Books.

Matriarchy and Patriarchy

Patriarchy (from Greek: Patria meaning father and arché meaning rule) refers to a society in which male members predominate in positions of power. The term “patriarchy” is also used in systems of ranking male leadership in certain hierarchical churches or religious bodies, such as the Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox churches.


In a matriarchy, power lies with the women of a community. Conclusive evidence for the existence of true matriarchal societies turns out to be elusive. There are examples, both historical and current, of societies in which lineage is determined through the mother, or in which women hold dominant positions in the family structure. However, such societies generally occur in times of societal stress or instability, where the men are absent or unreliable. Successful societies, in which children are raised to continue and advance their culture, are those in which men and women together take responsibility as spouses and parents in the home.



Feminism comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and moral philosophies concerned with gender inequalities and equal rights for women. The term “feminism” originated from the French word “feminisme,” coined by the utopian socialist Charles Fourier, and was first used in English in the 1890s, in association with the movement for equal political and legal rights for women. Feminism takes a number of forms in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history and feminist literary criticism. Feminism has changed aspects of Western society. Feminist political activists have been concerned with issues such as individual autonomy, political rights, social freedom, economic independence, abortion and reproductive rights, divorce, workplace rights (including maternity leave and equal pay), and education; and putting an end to domestic violence, gender stereotypes, discrimination, sexism, objectification, and prostitution.


Empowerment of women and girls

The empowerment of women and girls concerns their gaining power and control over their own lives. It involves awareness-raising, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources and actions to transform the structures and institutions which reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality. This implies that to be empowered they must not only have equal capabilities (such as education and health) and equal access to resources and opportunities (such as land and employment), but they must also have the agency to use these rights, capabilities, resources and opportunities to make strategic choices and decisions (such as is provided through leadership opportunities and participation in political institutions).

Source: UN Women Training Centre

Feminist economics

  • Advances feminist inquiry into economic issues affecting the lives of children, women, and men
  • Examines the relationship between gender and power in the economy and the construction and legitimization of economic knowledge
  • Extends feminist theoretical, historical, and methodological contributions to economics and the economy
  • Offers feminist insights into the underlying constructs of the economics discipline and into the historical, political, and cultural context of economic knowledge
  • Provides a feminist rethinking of theory and policy in diverse fields, including those not directly related to gender
  • Stimulates discussions among diverse scholars worldwide and from a broad spectrum of intellectual traditions, welcoming cross-disciplinary and cross-country perspectives, especially from countries in the South.

Source: Feminist Economics

Gender economics

Gender within neoclassical economics had been studied in relation with markets, especially labor market and marriage markets. More recently, access to the credit market, especially in relation to entrepreneurship as well as the effects of globalization on women, has been central in the economics of gender, which aims to analyze interpersonal relations within households.

Gender neoclassical economics adopts a standard analytical framework to cope with gender issues in economics, unlike feminist economics, which calls for a revision of both neoclassical economics’ vision and analysis. The use of the label ‘gender’ had been preferred by gender neoclassical economists to avoid accusations of being biased against men and to get a more neutral position about gender inequality. Claiming to be neutral about gender identities, gender neoclassical economics incorporates gender studies within mainstream economics in order to raise awareness of gender gaps and to develop new solutions which may be able to erode gender barriers (Moore 2015).

Source: Text from Becchio (2019:189)

Feminist economic geography

Feminist economic geography and the topics of its inquiry have grown and developed over the last more than three decades as the global and local economies have evolved. Themes of concern include:

  • Labour: The terms of women’s entry into the paid labour force, including migrant and immigrant workers, non-unionised labour, labour in global value chains and global production networks
  • Precarity and unpaid work: unpaid productive and reproductive labour
  • Gender and economic restructuring: austerity, financialisation, economic shocks, downloading costs of crises and restructuring of the crises onto racialised and genderised workers
  • Political economy: effect of discounting and disempowering  non-capitalist social and economic forms

Toolkits for feminist economic geography include methods such as ethnographic approaches, participant observation, in-depth case studies using qualitative and mixed methods, and critical policy analysis.

Source: Developed based on Strauss (2020)


Becchio, G. 2019. A History of Feminist and Gender Economics. Routledge.

Commonwealth Plan of action on Gender and Development, 1995.

Crenshaw, Kimberle. 1989.  Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum 1989:139-167.

FAO (2005) Strategic Framework on Human Capacity Development in Fisheries. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome. 60p.

International Labor Organization (2000) ABC Of Women Worker’s Rights And Gender Equality, ILO, Geneva, 89p.

Moore, S. ed., 2015. Contemporary global perspectives on gender economics. IGI Global.

Mosse, J.C. (1993) Half the World, Half a Chance. An Introduction to Gender and Development. Oxford: Oxfam UK.

Reeves, Hazel and Sally Baden 2000. Gender and Development: Concepts and Definitions. Bridge Development-Gender, Report No. 55. Link

Strauss, Kendra 2020. “Feminist economic geography.” (2020): 43-46. In Kobayashi, Audrey (Editor-in-chief) International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2nd Edition. Elsevier

UNESCO 2000. Gender Equality and Equity: a summary review of UNESCO’s accomplishments since the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing 1995).

Williams, S.B., Hochet-Kinbongui, M. and Nauen, C.E. (2005). Gender, Fisheries and Aquaculture: Social Capital and Knowledge for the Transition towards Sustainable Use of Aquatic Ecosystems. EU: Brussels, 32 p.