Embracing Gender And Development With Its Challenges, Part 2

Gender and Development is a hot issue that can be heard in almost all corners of the globe. In the Philippines, every government office is required to allot at least 5% of its annual budget for the said purpose. I guess we do not have many problems in the country that some of the GAD activities are often lumped with other equally important activities. In some foreign countries, they recognize the disparity or absence of women in middle and high management positions.

We still hear some misconceptions on the issue of gender and development. Others attribute GAD to rewriting previous accounts to favor recognition of women’s rights; equal rights for both women and men not to mention the third sex as recognized in other countries. Some jokingly state that history be changed to “folk story”; “human to hufolk”; mankind to “folk kind” to get rid of the dominant word “man” in our literatures as emphasis on the attainment of gender equality. Add to this is a circulating text message “Why Men are Important?” that says you can’t spell (Madam) without Adam in it; Neither can you spell (Woman) without the (Man); you also cannot spell (Female) without the (Male); Nor Spell (She) without (He); you most definitely cannot spell (Mrs.) without (Mr.) and finally, in prayers, we continue to say (Amen) and not (A-Women)? These are just some examples of gender issues that Filipinos are quick to make fun and sensationalize.

Gender issues are usually problems and concerns arising from assigning of gender roles to men and women in the households, communities, organizations, workplaces, and society based on gender stereotypes and gender scripts rather than on rights, actual competencies and interests. These issues can fall under some gender issues categorization such as marginalization, gender stereotyping, multiple burden, subordination and violence (Handout on Training on Gender Analysis and Planning for the CDA Personnel).

Further, allow me to share with you some of the lecture notes on GAD from our training. It was shared that how we think and behave are also largely influenced by the wirings of our brains and hormones in our body. In a study conducted by Francis Galton (1882), findings show that males like the red color and have stronger grip, females hear accurately and use more words than men. Also, it is interesting to know that when damages on left part of brains of male occur, it would mean loss of speech but for women, it is not the case. The assumption is that speech abilities of women are not only located in one side of the brain.

And did you know that as to size, male have bigger brains than women. However, findings show that brain size has no effect on the abilities or intelligence of individuals. Although female brain is smaller, it has thicker corpus callosum and more of the gray matter.  The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerves that connects the left and right hemisphere of the brain. It allows both sides of the brain to communicate and exchange information. The gray matter refers to the functioning part of the brain. This is related to the speech patterns of men and women. Accordingly, average words spoken in a day by women is about 6,000 t0 8,000 words while men do 2,000 to 4,000 words.

Another difference of male and female during the GAD training is on spatial ability. Based on the presentation, it was cited that only 10% of women have spatial abilities as dynamic as men. However, these can be developed through constant practice and exposure. Men excel in terms of spatial ability as manifested in jobs requiring spatial abilities like air traffic control; flight engineer; racing driver; nuclear engineer; pilot; architect; flight deck officers (statistics compiled in Australia, New Zealand, and England,1998). Spatial skills are related to ability to read maps, operate machines, program computers, and play video games and electronic toys.

It was also highlighted that behaviors or actions of men and women differ attributed to how brains are wired and compartmentalized. Women’s brains are configured for multi-tasking while men’s brains are compartmentalized and specialized. Closely associated is on the aspect of emotions. Emotions operate on a more widely spread hemispheres of women’s brain and thus operate at the same time as other brain functions. That is why women can become emotional while discussing an emotional issue; while watching a television show, or a scene in a movie. In a man, the position of emotions is in his right brain and thus can operate separately from other brain functions.

In summary, because of differences in how male and female brains are wired, they perceive the same world through different eyes: Female Awareness (cooperation, communication, harmony, love, sharing and bonding; Male Awareness (getting results; achieving goals; status/power; beating the competition); Women define themselves/ their self-worth by the quality of their relationships while men define themselves by their work and accomplishments.

As explained earlier, the situations and circumstances may not be applicable to all. The best thing for us to do is understand that male and female have differences and need each other to co-exist.  Gender and Development is not about who is better and who is right. It is about learning how to appreciate the uniqueness of how we are created by God with differences at the same time harnessing life to the fullest towards a happy relationship. Let us all reflect and be enlightened!

We would like to thank the battery of speakers from GERC, We-Effect, CDA and ADTEMPCO and to the participants from nine regions of the country that contributed to success of the activity.

(Note: The above presentations were extracted from the Handout during the Training on Gender Analysis and Planning for the CDA Technical Personnel held at Baguio Crown Legacy Hotel, May 23-26,2018as compiled by Gender Equality and Resource Center, Inc.)

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