Gender is defined as being « the social organization of the relation between sexes (Scott, 1988). This organization includes power and socialization institutions (the school, the state, the family, the labour market, the political system, the media and the language) as well as the social representations which, in the common sense, attribute to the sex socio-cultural meanings » (Roux, 2000:6). Gender is not a static concept. On the contrary, it is dynamic and progressive. The gender perspective brings to light social inequalities between women and men that can only be eliminated if equality measures between sexes are elaborated and implemented.
According to Oxford’s dictionary, equality is the condition of being equal in quantity, amount, value, intensity, etc. In persons, equality means, fairness, impartiality and equity. It is the condition of having equal dignity, rank or privileges with others, the fact of being on an equal footing.
GDECA defines equal opportunities as being a vision that allows people to benefit from fair treatment, to have the same rights and obligations in every sphere of the society. After analysing the situations and the needs on equity, equal opportunities policies aims to implement concretes measures in order to eliminate any kind of single or intersectional discriminations: sex, gender, origin, race, age, socioeconomic situation, sexual orientation, handicap, etc.
Gender mainstreaming is « the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality » (UN, Economics and Social Council, E/1997/L.30). Gender and gender mainstreaming are distinct. Gender takes into account and is interested in the differences between sexes in any activity or field while gender mainstreaming has an additional objective of equality between women and men.
• Note : « (…) the dimension men-women is a structural difference which affects all the population. Neither the women nor the men should be treated like a particular lobby group among others. Quite to the contrary, the gender affects, and even often reinforces, the differences and the vulnerabilities according to others structural differences such as race, ethnicity, class, age, handicap, sexual orientation, etc. » (European Commission, 1998:7).
In relation to human beings, diversity is a concept which refers to the quality of being different or varied but in no case, inferior or superior. Thus, diversity refers to the broad range of visible and non-visible differences characterising human beings. Some of these distinctions include age, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender, religion, marital or parental status, political belief or socio-economic background.