The term gender refers to the economic, social and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being male or female. In most societies, being a man or a woman is not simply a matter of different biological and physical characteristics. Men and women face different expectations about how they should dress, behave or work. Relations between men and women, whether in the family, the workplace or the public sphere, also reflect understandings of the talents, characteristics and behavior ‘appropriate’ to women and to men.

Gender thus differs from sex, in that it is social and cultural, rather than biological. Gender attributes and characteristics – the roles that men and women play, and the expectations placed upon them – vary widely among societies and change over time.

But the fact that gender attributes are socially constructed means that they are also possible to change in ways that can make a society more just and equitable for all.