Can the redefinition of gender roles contribute to sustainability?

Can the redefinition of gender roles contribute to sustainability?


It has been suggested that the gendered division of roles within society, in the professional sphere but especially in the domestic sphere, leads us to grossly undervalue activities that are essential both to production and to reproduction, limiting the ability of both women and men to flourish and leading us to underestimate the value of "social investment".

Indeed, societies have valued and rewarded lifestyles and attitudes generally associated with men (such as competitiveness, a willingness to put in long work hours, etc.), and have undervalued activities traditionally associated with women (such as those linked to the "care" economy, but also household responsibilities).

However, many of the social innovations that will be key to succeeding in the transition to sustainability depend on the latter. Revaluing them -- and at the same time, freeing men and women from the gendered division of activities and expectations -- may be key for such a transition to succeed.

  • How can the persistent inequalities between women and men be addressed?
  • How can the linkages between more inclusive societies and a more sustainable use of resources be recognized in the EU's equal treatment and social inclusion policies?
  • How can we better acknowledge the crucial role of men in building gender equality as equal partners with women?

Read more:

BACKGROUND PAPER by conference rapporteur: Gender, Sustainabilities and Change by Jeff Hearn
Presentation to EU5P conference: Gender, Sustainabilities and Change by Jeff Hearn
The Role of Men in Gender Equality : European strategies and insights,report prepared for the European Commission, DG Justice - Unit D2 Gender equality, December 2012
Gender and Sustainable Development: Maximizing the economic, social and environmental role of Women, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Paris: OECD Publishing, 2008
Sustainability and Inequality in Human Development, by Eric Neumayer, United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Reports, Research Paper 2011/04, November 2011
Reflecting on men and social policy: Contemporary critical debates and implications for social policy, Jeff Hearn for Critical Social Policy

Photo thanks to LilGoldWmn