Glossary of Terms

Constructive men’s engagement (CME) refers to facilitating the participation of men in reproductive health and other programs. CME promotes gender equity, increases men’s support for women’s sexual and reproductive health and for children’s well being, and advances the reproductive health of both men and women. Men can be constructively engaged as clients, supportive partners and as agents of change. (IGWG)
Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. (WHO)
Gender identity refers to one’s sense of oneself as a man, a woman or transgender.
Gender integration refers to strategies applied in program assessment, design, implementation, and evaluation to take gender norms into account and to compensate for gender-based inequalities.
Gender mainstreaming is the process of incorporating a gender perspective into policies, strategies, programs, project activities, and administrative functions, as well as into the institutional culture of an organization.
Gender-based violence (GBV) is used to distinguish violence that targets individuals or groups of individuals on the basis of their gender from other forms of violence. It includes any act that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm. GBV includes violent acts such as rape, torture, mutilation, sexual slavery, forced impregnation and murder. It also defines threats of these acts as a form of violence. (United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women)
Reproductive health is a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, in all matters relating to the reproductive system and to its functions and processes. Reproductive health therefore implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so." (Fourth World Conference on Women Platform for Action, 1995, paragraph 94; International Conference on Population and development (ICPD) Programme of Action, 1994, paragraph 7.2).
Reproductive rights embrace certain human rights that are already recognized in national laws, international human rights documents and other consensus documents. These rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. It also includes their right to make decisions concerning reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence, as expressed in human rights documents. Implicit in this last condition are the rights of men and women to be informed and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of family planning of their choice, as well as other, legal  methods of their choice for regulation of fertility, and the right of access to appropriate healthcare services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant. (ICPD Programme of Action, 1994, paragraphs 7.2 and 7.3)
Sex refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. Sex differences are concerned with males’ and females’ physiology. WHO)
Sexual health encompasses behaviors essential to countering sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS. Sexual health aims at the enhancement of life and personal relations, and sexual health services should not consist merely of counseling and care related to reproduction and sexually transmitted diseases. (FWCW Platform for Action, paragraph 94; ICPD Program of Action, paragraph 7.2)
Sexual identity, sexual preference, and sexual orientation refer to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions to men, women, or both sexes, and a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. (APA)
Sexual rights include “the human right of women to have control over and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality, including sexual and reproductive health, free of coercion, discrimination and violence." (FWCW Platform for Action, paragraph 96)
Violence against women (VAW) refers to “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life. Accordingly, violence against women encompasses but is not limited to the following:
  1. Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation
  2. Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution
  3. Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
"Other acts of violence against women include violation of the human rights of women in situations of armed conflict, in particular murder, systematic rape, sexual slavery and forced pregnancy. Acts of violence against women also include forced sterilization and forced abortion, coercive/forced use of contraceptives, female infanticide and prenatal sex selection.” (FWCW Platform for Action, 1995, paragraphs 113,115)
Women’s empowerment is a social process whereby women acquire power individually and collectively. It enhances women’s capacity to act independently (self-determination), control assets and make choices and decisions about all aspects of one’s life. (adapted from Kabeer 2001) Women’s empowerment is the process by which unequal power relations are transformed and women gain greater equality with men. At the government level, this includes the extension of all fundamental social, economic and political rights to women. On the individual level, this includes processes by which women gain inner power to express and defend their rights and gain greater self-esteem and control over their own lives and personal and social relationships. Male participation and acceptance of changed roles are essential for women’s empowerment. (UNFPA)