Gender sensitive communication |  Life

Gender sensitive communication | Life

That is ingrained in our language and is related to gender stereotypes has. These reveal sexist features and show negative effects that lower the position of women. Stereotypes impose various pressures on not only women, but also men, as they should be brave, aggressive, and assertive, and from an early age they sometimes are not ready. Using a sensitive language, breaking gender stereotypes provides.

Gender stereotypes are defined as simple assumptions and ideas about the behavior of women and men. Stereotyped and settled over time gender stereotypesfinds its response in everyday life without thinking about it. This causes these judgments to be maintained. Gender stereotypes; they show themselves on character, physical features, social roles and professions. For example, stereotypes such as men being aggressive, assertive and women being timid and collaborative, as well as examples such as men being the breadwinner and women taking care of the house are also common.

Language shows the approach of the person using it

Of a language that focuses on gender equality; It needs to be a language that avoids expressions that claim one gender is superior to another, is free from prejudices, and avoids gender-specific and potentially discriminatory expressions. Because the language used, gender inequality reinforces and reproduces. In order to break this cycle, gender equality needs to be mainstream.

UNDP (United Nations Development Program) is working to make gender equality mainstream. Gender Sensitive Communication GuideIt is expressed as follows in;

“Language shapes the way we interpret the world. It determines how we think and act. The words we choose in communication also reflect our assumptions about the outside world, including gender relations. The meanings of reality are not given, they are constructed through language. Despite the dominant meanings, there are alternative meanings that question these meanings. While gender stereotypes reveal an erroneous view of the world and its possibilities, it draws boundaries for women and men and devaluates the situation of femininity and masculinity. “

Using gender-sensitive language paves the way for countering the unconscious assumptions in everyday language. “Only men can be carpenters.” “The place for women is home.” “The man who supports the house is a man.” Such thoughts penetrate daily life with various discourses and are passed down from generation to generation. Both women and men are actually affected by gender stereotypes. For this reason, it becomes important to change the language of communication.

“Do I have stereotypes?”

If women are polite, fragile, emotional, nagging, gossipy; If you believe that they are physically elegant, well-groomed and responsible for housework, if you think that they are better suited to professions such as nurses, teachers, babysitters, secretaries, stewardesses because of their mother and caregiver roles, this means that you have gender stereotypes.

Similarly, if you have thoughts or expressions that men are brave, sociable, competitive, rude or henpecked, you see them as strong, vulgar, neglected in terms of physical characteristics, as a social role that supports and protects the family, who is in the public sphere, who establishes rules. / if you see it in a decision maker position; If you think that men can do professions such as doctor, tradesman, engineer, technician, judge, management, pilot better, then you have gender stereotypes, attention!

By paying attention to some small details, you can break stereotypes, gender sensitive language use of You can contribute to become established. Here are a few examples;

  • “Dear mothers. We ask you to bake cookies for our classroom party tomorrow. ” You can say “Dear families” or “Dear parents” instead.

  • Don’t assume that some jobs and tasks are only suitable for men or women only. If you have thoughts such as “Farmers become men”, “Primary school teachers become women”, this is an example.

  • Minimizing or special form definitions are often unnecessary. General terms such as doctor, judge, farmer, or player represent both genders. Based on the assumption that some professions are only for men, using expressions such as “female doctor, woman judge” and othering avoid.

  • When talking about a job or task, use a gender-specific pronoun only if the gender of that person is obvious.

  • Avoid appeals that label a woman with a man’s relationship, whether she is married or not, that includes courtesy, or that trivializes a woman as an extension of a man.

  • Treat men and women the same.

  • Define men and women alike.

Pay attention to courtesy and professional references

“Sales representative / seller” instead of “seller man / seller woman”

“Professional / manager / business person” instead of “career woman”

“Cabin attendant” instead of “host / hostess”

“Nurse” instead of “male nurse”

Instead of “housewife / housewife” “who pulls the house and turns it around”

“Business person, entrepreneur” instead of “businessman / business woman”

“Cleaner / helper” instead of “woman” (cleaner)

“Host” instead of “landlady”

“Woman” instead of “lady”

“Driver” instead of “woman driver”

Avoid using exclusionary terms

Instead of “man” “person, person, individual”

“Humanity” instead of “Mankind”

“Recruiting staff for the project” instead of “recruiting”

Instead of “being a man”, “growing up, growing up well, coming to a good situation”

“Unwritten contract” instead of “gentleman’s agreement”

“Fulfilling the promise” instead of “place of his promise”

Avoid reproducing stereotypes

“Woman” instead of “lady”

“Pre-marital surname” instead of “maiden name”

“Shy” / “very beautiful and new” instead of “girly”

“Women’s toilet” instead of “ladies’ toilet”

“Employee / employee” instead of “man”

Avoid using sexist terms

“Laughing like a girl”, “selling your mother”, “buying a girl / giving a girl”, “sissy,” “promising a man”, “staying at home”, “young man girl”, etc.

“What will we do with gender equality?”

Recommended for getting rid of stereotypes gender equality sensitive communication The aim is to represent women and men equally in society, to benefit from resources and opportunities equally, to assume equal roles, to observe balance in decision-making processes, to question patterns, and thus to use an inclusive language and visuals. The aim is to achieve gender equality. So, what will achieving gender equality provide for society?

Society and socially constructed roles, behaviors, actions and qualities for women and men “What is gender?” constitutes the answer to the question. Gender has a structure that varies depending on time and culture. Social gender equality if; It is defined as the individuals’ taking advantage of equal opportunities and rights in all areas of life and being treated equally, regardless of their gender, being able to develop their personal knowledge and skills and make choices in all fields they wish.

It is now a known fact that gender equality should be ensured and women should be empowered for the development of society. Gender equality is required for both economic and human development. Combating gender inequality has been determined as the main focus by the United Nations within the framework of the human development approach. Women’s empowerment the economic well-being of the country increasing. In this case, it becomes important to change the sexist expressions in the language that are embedded in daily life. Since the language learned at a young age also provides a kind of cultural learning, sexist expressions embedded in the language indirectly affect the child’s perspective. For this goal, which is emphasized by many experts, especially economists, society needs to be gender-sensitive. It is suggested to change the sexist expressions established in the daily spoken language in order to provide this sensitivity.

Gender inequality was investigated on district basis: From İzmir to Karşıyaka at the summit

Founded to combat all kinds of factors and prejudices that lead to gender inequality, Yanındayız Association has published a district level gender index. Karşıyaka district of İzmir was at the top of the index prepared according to 27 sub-indicators in four main categories as “Political participation and decision making”, “Education”, “Access to economic life and resources” and “Health and sports”. Şanlıurfa Akçakale recorded the lowest score in the index, which takes the district by district gender equality x-ray in Turkey. The study was conducted by the Istanbul University City Policy Application and Research Center. Comparable and sustainable index calculations were made for 234 districts with a population of 100,000 and above. According to the index results, the districts of Karşıyaka from Izmir, Kadıköy and Bakırköy from Istanbul, Merkez from Çanakkale and Çankaya from Ankara were ranked at the top of the index as the top 5 districts with the highest gender equality. In the general index ranking, there were 5 districts from Istanbul, 3 from Izmir, and one each from Çanakkale and Ankara. Looking at the results in general, it was seen that while the score values ​​of most of the districts in education, health and sports categories approached the highest score of 1, even the best districts were far from equality when evaluated in terms of political participation and decision-making, economic life and access to resources.

Compiled by: Senem Tahmaz

References: United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Gender Sensitive Communication Guide (2019). Retrieved from:

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