Ipyet/Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise training

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Module 3.1: Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise Training

A discussion paper by
Elizabeth Simonda

Welcome to this session on Gender Considerations in Youth Enterprise training. We hope it will provide you with information that you will need in gender issues as you work with the youth and enterprise training. I hope and trust that you will participate actively in the discussions. Please feel free to raise any issues that you want to be clarified.


The following are the objectives for the session:

  • To familiarize participants with the differences between sex and gender,
  • To make participants aware of some key gender concepts and
  • To make participants aware of the gender constraints and considerations important for youth enterprise training.


This session will provide you with definitions on gender terms such as gender and sex realising the fact that in most cases, the two terms are not clear. They are also often interchanged and people think that they mean the same thing. The Module will also introduce to you some gender terms and concepts such as gender roles, gender equality, gender equity, gender norms/values/stereotypes, gender balance, gender blind, gender neutral and others that will assist you to under stand gender issues better. The session will further assist you to understand some of the gender constraints and make it difficult for the youth (both female and male) to participate in enterprise development and at the same time be aware of some considerations that can be taken for Youth Enterprise training.

Definitions on gender and sex

In order to discuss the definitions for gender and sex, let us take some time to discuss what your own definition of gender and sex are.

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In your notepads, state your understanding of sex, and gender and the differences between these.


Gender refers to the social differences and relations between girls and boys, between women and men that are:

- Learned
- Change over time within a society and between societies

Sex refers to the biological differences between women and men that are universal and do not change. For example, only men can impregnate a woman and only a woman can breast feed a baby.

Key gender concepts

  • Gender roles = what women and men actually do,
  • Gender values/norms/stereotypes = ideas of people on what women and men should be like and what they are capable of doing,
  • Gender Equality = equal rights, responsibilities, opportunities, treatment and valuation of women and men at work in jobs/enterprises and in the relation between work and life. Gender equality includes the same human and workers’ rights, equal value and fair distribution of work load, responsibilities and opportunities, decision making and sharing of income. This has to be the same even in business,
  • Key principles of gender equality: Achieving gender equality is not the concern of women only, is the responsibility of all. Greater gender equality will benefit all:
- It does not mean more for women and less for men, it means more for all,
-Gender equality needs to be main streamed in enterprise development,
- Use experiences of women and men and
- Assess effects of all actions on women and men
  • Gender equality promotion needs to be integrated into enterprise development programmes at all stages of the programme cycle during designing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
  • Gender equality is about ensuring that all persons are treated with dignity and can develop to their full potential leading to a higher quality of life for all. It does not mean that women and men need to become exactly the same biologically. Women and men can be and are different but should have equal rights, opportunities, responsibilities and be treated and valued in a fair way and also when doing business.
  • Gender equity = 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. Equity is the means and equality is the goal,
  • Gender gap = is the difference in any area between women and men in terms of their levels of participation, access to resources, rights, power and influence, remuneration and benefits,
  • Gender mainstreaming = a globally accepted strategy for promoting gender equality. Mainstreaming is not an end in itself but a strategy/approach/means to achieving gender equality. Mainstreaming involves ensuring that gender perspectives and attention to the goal of gender equality are central to all activities, policy development, research, advocacy, legislation, resource allocation, planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes and projects,
  • Gender neutral policies = use the knowledge of gender differences in a given context to overcome biases in delivery, to ensure that they target and benefit both genders effectively in terms of their practical gender needs. Moreover, they work within the existing gender division of resources and responsibilities,
  • Gender sensitivitye = employs the use of gender neutral language in order counteract sexist terminology, as for example masculine terms for professions and trades or the constant use of masculine pronouns. However if care is not taken, sexist language may be eliminated but gender variables will remain masked and so make it difficult to address underlying gender inequalities,
  • Gender aware/sensitive = recognizes the fact that within a society, actors are women and men, that they are constrained in different and often unequal ways, and that they may consequently have differing and sometimes conflicting needs, interests and priorities,
  • Gender blind = describes research, analysis, policies, advocacy materials, project and programming design and implementation that do not explicitly recognise existing gender differences that concern both productive and reproductive roles of women and men. Gender blind policies do not distinguish between the sexes. Assumptions incorporate biases in favour of existing gender relations and so tend to exclude women,
  • Gender budgeting = the application of gender mainstreaming in the budgetary process. It means incorporating a gender perspective at all levels of the budgetary process and restructuring revenues and expenditures in order to promote gender equality,
  • Gender division of labour = the division of labour between women and men depends on the social economic and cultural context and can be analysed by differentiating between productive and reproductive tasks as well as community based activities, who does what, when, how, for how long etc.
  • Sex disaggregated data = collection and use of quantitative and qualitative data by sex is critical as a basis for gender sensitive research, analysis, strategic planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects. The use of this kind of data reveals and clarifies gender related issues in areas such as access to and control over resources, division of labour, violence, mobility and decision making,
  • Affirmative/positive action = special temporary measures to redress the effects of the past discrimination in order to establish equal opportunity and treatment between women and men,
  • Feminism = body of theory and social movement that questions gender inequality and seeks to redress it at the personal, national and societal levels,
  • Glass ceiling = invisible artificial barriers created by attitudinal and organizational prejudices that block women from senior executive management positions and
  • Harassment = Any kind of emotional and physical abuse, persecution or victimization. Harassment and pressure at work can consist of various forms of offensive behaviour. Harassment is characterized by persistently negative attacks of a physical or psychological nature on an individual or group of employees which are typically unpredictable, irrational and unfair.

Gender constraints for youth in enterprise development

Gender relations throughout the world are characterized by unequal and unbalanced relations between women and men. Women of all stages generally have fewer opportunities and more duties while men have more opportunities and less work load. Disparities between girls and boys exist even in education among families where choices are made to educate a boy and not a girl. As such the female youth compared to the male youth face a number of constraints when trying to start and grow their own enterprises.

Such constraints include the following:

  • Lack of opportunities to start own businesses as parents/guardians and even communities do not believe that young people and especially female can manage a business,
  • Lack of opportunities to access and control resources such as funds for starting and growing a business,
  • Lack of skills in business management that would assist them to manage a profitable business,
  • Lack of acceptance of female youth in some businesses,
  • Dominant stereotypes about female activities,
  • Lack of family support,
  • Lack of technical skills to enable them produce quality products and services,
  • Market problems for their products and services and especially for female youth who may be regarded to be prostitutes if they start travelling to various places looking for market for their products and services,
  • Lack of opportunities for information for market for their products and services due to lack of networking opportunities especially for the female youth who may not be allowed by parents/guardians and society to join networks due to traditions that do not allow the youth and especially the female youth to go out and meet other people in order for them to learn from others,
  • Lack of funds for female youth to join mixed networks,
  • Lack of funds to pay for transport to go for training programmes and also to pay for participation fees for training programmes,
  • Lack of operational and market premises for their businesses,
  • Mobility problems for female youth due to cultural norms and personal safety considerations.
  • Multiple roles for the female youth compared to the male youth,
  • People’s and family’s attitudes towards a young female entrepreneurs
  • Lack of confidence among the youth and especially the female youth to decide to start and grow a business and many more.

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List and discuss other constraints no identified.

Gender Considerations for Youth Enterprise Training

After having discussed the various constraints that the youth and especially the female youth face in participating actively in enterprise development, let us now discuss some key considerations that should be taken by support organisations to ensure that both the female and male youth have chances and opportunities to participate in youth enterprise training. The following should be considered among others:

  • Information on enterprise training programmes should be provided to both the female and male youth so that they are all aware about the trainings available,
  • Information on training programmes should be made available in places such as schools, churches, clinics, on internet, youth centres and other places that can be easily reached by both the female and male youth, guardians and communities so that it is easily accessible by the youth,
  • Deliberate efforts to reach out to more female youth with information on youth enterprise training should be made by support institutions so that the female youth have equal chances and opportunities to participate in the training,
  • Deliberate efforts should be made if need be to ensure that there is equal participation of the female and male youth,
  • Venues for training programmes to be nearer to the communities so that the female youth can also participate and if possible, the trainers should move to the communities instead of the youth travelling far places in case their guardians do not give permission to the female youth to travel,
  • More none residential trainings to be encouraged so that the trainings can reach out to more youth and especially the female youth who may not be allowed to travel (or sleep outside their homes),
  • Training materials to be made available in local languages to carter for the youth and especially the female youth who did not go far in education as a result of parents having chosen to a have a son educated,
  • Use of role models for training programmes,
  • Mentoring and counselling services,
  • Support organisations that conduct the youth enterprise training should look for donors who can subside the training so that more youth an d especially the female youth who may have no income to pay for transport and participation fees


The session on Gender considerations for youth enterprise training took you through various gender issues which included the definitions on gender and sex, a number of key gender concepts such as gender roles, gender equality, gender equity, gender neutral, gender blind, gender disaggregated data. We also discussed gender constraints that exist between the female and male youth that make it difficult for the female youth to participate actively in enterprise development. Lastly, the session looked at the considerations that should be taken in youth enterprise training so that both the female and male youth can participate actively in the training programmes that will enable both sexes to access skills that they need to start and grow their enterprises.

We hope that you found the session useful for your work with the youth in your various countries. Good luck

Sources for Further Reading

ILO Gender Bureau: ABC of Women Workers’ Rights and Gender Equality (Geneva, 2000A) http://www.ilo.org/public/english/supportr/public/xtextww.htm#b8449

ILO Gender Bureau Gender! A partnership of Equals (Geneva, 2000B) http://www.ilo.org/publiuc/english/regional/am[ro/cinterfor/temas/gender/doc/pacto/appro.htm

ILO’s women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Gender Equality (WEDGE) programme –Publications and Training Manuals

Marcucci, Pamela Nichols, ILO Seed (2001), Jobs, gender and small Enterprises in Afrfica and Asia, Lessons learnt from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, working Paper No. 18,

Richardson, Pat Rhona Howarth and Gerry Finnegan, ILO SEED (2004). The Challenges of Growing Small Businesses: Insights from Women Entrepreneurs in Africa. Working Paper No. 47,