Mon, 12/13/2010 - 08:47 - 172 Views

Defining Gender and Development

Gender and development is a very broad research area that covers a wide range of research topics. Gender and development research can focus on social relationships between men and women during different times in history and places in a narrow context of a family or a community, or a wider context of one region or one nation. Gender and Development is a very diverse and multi-disciplined research area.

The World Women’s Summit organized by the United Nations in Beijing in 1995 specified 12 priorities in gender development. Even today these priorities still play a significant role in improving women’s status and in achieving gender equality. These 12 priorities take into account the social issues that affect women and gender equality such as poverty, education, healthcare, employment, living in rural areas, violence and conflicts, decision-making, environment, etc.

Performing research and carrying out training on gender issues are among the tasks of universities and research institutions. Knowledge from this research will provide us with a more general view of women’s present situation and a scientific basis to reach a more equal and sustainable society.

The Gender and Society Research Center (GAS) at Hoa Sen University was established with an ambition to join this ongoing trend of gender research. Its first target is to inspire Hoa Sen University students and lecturers who may be interested in the objectives of this group, that also aims to join the international research network in cross-border research projects to work with researchers from different countries in an exchange of knowledge and experience.

The research foci of the GAS

With many gender research projects, the choice is to unravel the situation of women living in patriarchal societies where men are privileged. Since the end of 1970, research on relationships between men and women has been mainly focused on analyzing these relationships in order to gain equality between the two genders. However, given our shortage of knowledge about women’s lives, it is not surprising that most gender research still focuses on studying the women’s role in gender relationships.

During its first stage, the Center will focus on the following three major themes:

1. Women, gender and history

We have studied the stories about women, stories about heroines fighting for our country in the past or about women in high positions in the government and in science at the present. However, the life stories of ordinary women from different social classes who lived and worked in society, how they suffered from inequality in a patriarchal society, and their life achievements are absent from all the historical records. This absence proves to us that there is still a lot to be learned.

In addition, what great thinkers, intellectuals, or people of a certain time-period in the history of a country thought about the social relationships between men and women and whether they had revolutionary ideas about gender equality, are yet other questions to which we need to find the answers.

2. Women, gender and education

In many societies, especially in developing countries, women are faced with illiteracy, limited education under the oppression of inequality, and social bias against them. Inequality in access to education leads to inequality in employment, income, and social status. That is the reason why so many feminists consider eliminating illiteracy for women and providing occupational training as the top priorities on their agenda.

Studying how education paves the way to forming a group of female intellectuals with full awareness of women’s rights and equal status with men in a family and in society, and of their responsibility as citizens to their country and to the world is another research focus of the Gender and Society (GAS) group.

3. Women, gender and violence

Gender-based violence has been a concern of both researchers and social activists. Besides domestic violence of which the main victims are women and children, armed conflicts in many places in the world also claim a toll on many female victims. Movements by women under the slogan of equality, peace, and development at the World Women’s Summit inNairobi in 1985, reflected their dream of a peaceful world without weapons or conflicts.

In war, men directly face the risks of death, injuries and post-war difficulties. Women are also active in battles, and at home support their families, and at the same time are threatened by the risk of being killed or injured. In some wars, women were degraded as tools for men, having to suffer from the severe pain of losing their dignity. War experiences and losses suffered by women during wars have nevertheless not been well-researched and social compensation for their contribution and sacrifice is undervalued as a result.

To respond to this urgent need, the GAS has launched a research project entitled ‘Women and War’ to collect memoirs from women survivors of the two wars in Vietnam and create an archive. Another aim is to build an international research network to exchange experiences and research results among researchers.

All of these three research foci are inter-disciplinary with an emphasis on analyzing the influence of culture on the situation of women and their aim to promote gender equality. If cultural change is necessary to meet the goal of gender equality and to eliminate discrimination against women, such change should be brought about.

Members of the Gender and Society Research Center

Ms. Thai Thi Ngoc Du, PhD in Humanity Geography, Phone: 0918230714

Ms. Le Thi Hanh, Master in Gender and Development,

Ms. Nguyen Thi Nhan, Master in Education,

Ms. Bui Tran Phuong, PhD in History,

Ms. Le Hoang Anh Thu, Master in Sociology,

Ms. Doan Thi Ngoc, MSW, MEd in TESOL Candidate,

The Gender and Society Center welcomes the support and participation of lecturers and staff at Hoa Sen University.

Address: 8 Nguyen Van Trang Str., District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Phone : +84 19001278 - ext. 11.280

Fax: +84 8 39257851