The first words that parents hear after their child’s birth are the following: "YOU HAVE A BOY!" or "YOU HAVE A GIRL!". From that moment on, both parent and child live in a world that sets limits and conditions depending on the sex of a child.
THE BIOLOGICAL SEX OF A HUMAN BEING IS A SET OF ANATOMICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL, BIOCHEMICAL AND GENETIC CHARACTERISTICS THAT DISTINGUISH THE MALE ORGANISM FROM THE FEMALE.
Only a woman can be pregnant, give birth to a child, breastfeed it, be a daughter, mother, grandmother. Only a man can be a child's genetic father, son, grandfather.
The concept of gender came into use from sociology and outlines the social, as opposed to the biological, sex of a person, his/her social role and status, which determines the social opportunities of each sex in education, professional activity, access to power, family roles and reproductive behavior and is one of the basic dimensions of community social structure.
GENDER IS A CULTURAL CHARACTERISTIC OF BEHAVIOR WHICH IS TAUGHT ACCORDING TO A SEX IN A PARTICULAR SOCIETY AT A CERTAIN TIME.
Gender roles are characterized by dynamics and can change depending on time, geographical location, residence, traditions, laws, etc. Behavior that differs from assigned gender role is punished by society with harsh sanctions: from condemnation to exclusion from community life.
Productive work of women is valued less that the one performed by men, even though it is paid and generates income. In Ukraine women hold less prestigious and lower paid jobs, there is a lack of women in top management, especially in the sphere where important decisions are made, even though there is plenty of women doing entry level jobs and holding middle management positions, where salaries are lower. There is an unspoken prohibition to do certain jobs for women and men.
Such activity requires long hours and much efforts. Reproductive labor in Ukraine is performed mainly by women as it is considered by the society as a duty of women and girls and their “natural” function. As a consequence, this type of work is usually disregarded, unpaid and disrespected by the society, even though reproductive labor is extremely important for survival of mankind.
These kinds of activities take too much time, quite often is performed as volunteering, and is very important for spiritual and cultural development of a community. Women and men are equally engaged in these activities in local communities, even though gender distribution of work exists here as well. If local communitiy work is being paid, chances are this work is performed by men. In election process or political activities at the lower level the managerial positions are held by men, although the biggest part of job is performed by women.
Gender roles of women traditionally include activities in three spheres: productive and reproductive spheres, volunteering for community. And they are considered the roles of women.
Gender roles assimilation starts even before the birth of a child with expectations of a family regarding sex of a child soon coming to this world and further bringing-up in correspondence to her/his sex. Apart from that mass media, educational institutions, army and church significantly influence gender socialization of a child. These institutions expand, strengthen and engrave gender stereotypes that make an impact on overall performance of a person in a community.
As a rule gender stereotypes regulate either appearance of men and women or gender roles in a society. The patriarchal society demands women to be tender, beautiful, nurturing, to take good care of her body and face, her house and that having kids is mandatory. Men should be breadwinners and protectors. These ideas form distribution of household chores. It is implied that the main function of a woman is to give birth and take care of a house, and man in his turn should provide and be a good master and protector of his family. Thus cultural background and certain beliefs and traditions form gender stereotypes. People do not change their points of view easily, because they don’t want to comprehend that such ideas are outdated and can’t be applied to current situation and are no longer actual in modern world. This causes fixation of men and women on the recommended roles, which in its turn strengthens gender inequality and leads to gender discrimination.
The project was financed by Heinrich Böll Foundation in 2007 and represented by the Gender Information and Analytical Center “Krona” (Kharkiv) in Ukraine.
The goal of the project is to illustrate the ideas of gender equality in the language of the social posters.
Since 2009 the “Gender in Pictures” project has been an exhibit of the Gendermuseum.