Ways in Which Zimbabwe Has Tried to Address Gender Inequalities.

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Faculty of Social Science

Name :Sharron

Surname :Mashave

Reg # :R113505J

Level:2.1

Mode of Entry :Parallel

Module :Gender Studies

Lecturer:Mr. T. T. Mugodzwa

Department :Politics and Public Management

Question :

a) Discuss four ways in which the education system in your country constructs the gender inequalities. [12]

b) Suggest four ways in which the education system in your country can be made gender responsive. [8]

a) It has become apparent that since time immemorial the girl child has been socialized to believe that she is inferior in some way or another to her male counterpart. This has been showcased in areas such as education, culture and religion. This form of discrimination has been the norm across all races, creeds, nationalities etc. The gender disparity that was now a norm was indoctrinated in the female kind through socialization in the home, community, schools, churches and almost everywhere they existed. Haralambos and Holborn, 2008 refer to gender as the human traits linked by culture to each sex. Using the education system of Zimbabwe as a case study, a number of ways have been identified that construct gender inequality. Subrahmanian, 2003 refers to gender equality in this context as ensuring educational equality between boys and girls.

Firstly and possibly most importantly is the issue of pregnancy in schools. It was the norm that all girls that fell pregnant while at school would be expelled as soon as it was found out. This was a disadvantage to the girl child as she alone would be affected by the decision, whereas her male counterpart would be allowed to continue and finish school. The Zimbabwe Education Act (Chapter 25:04) of 1996 stipulates that every child has the exclusive right to education and especially at the basic level, but this has not been taken into consideration in the past. This is a mirror image of the adult ideals that women should be at home raising children and not out in the world earning a living.

This kind of gender inequality is also seen in the representation of teaching staff itself; it is noted that in most instances females are the teaching staff and males hold the higher offices of Headmastership and Vice Chancellorship. The names of the higher level positions too were gender biased, being referred to as head’masters’, school’masters’, sports’masters’ etc without taking into consideration that women too could hold such positions. Pre-colonial legislation had not been addressed therefore you would find that female teachers (as well as other positions) were given far lesser remuneration than their male counterparts. This was perceived as a norm, yet what they taught or the work they did was exactly the same. The Labour Relations Act introduced in 1985, states that “no employer should discriminate against any employee on the grounds of race, tribe or place of origin, political opinion, colour, creed or sex.” This means that women should have the same opportunities as men in the educational system. It was also noted that women were not paid as well as the male counterparts; this disadvantaged women gravely and impacted on the number of females in the educational environment.

Another construct that promoted gender inequality in the education system is the roles that are depicted in the texts used in schools. Women are represented as child bearers, cooks, cleaners, maids, nannies, and generally lower in society than men. As early as elementary learning, children are taught to separate their gender traits accordingly, boys play in the sand box, build blocks while girls are given dolls and are encouraged to play act at preparing meals for the boys (who will later be the fathers and bread winners of the homes). In higher education, girls are encouraged to take up subjects such as fashion and fabrics, home economics and arts while boys are...
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