URC Uganda staff in the gender integration training, Taroub Faramand April 2013
“You’re breaking a ‘gender rule’ right now by eating chicken,” said one of the male participants during the lunch break at our Gender Integration training in the URC Uganda office. In a murmur of laughter and banter, the Ugandan staff members explained that for some, it is taboo for a Ugandan woman to eat chicken. For the most part, Ugandans no longer practice the rule, though some say older relatives and a few tribes still observe the gender-related chicken restriction.
The roles, expectations, behaviors and interactions between men, women, boys and girls are intimately tied to local people and change with time. “Gender” is a social construct shaped by these customs and perceptions. In the previously mentioned example, the male-exclusive entitlement to eat chicken as a sign of reverence interacts with other customs to shape sex disparities of power and capabilities in the society. If the women at our training abided by this restriction, our catering would have been gender-blind and, in effect, we would have only been serving lunch to men. Women, men, boys and girls also differ in their healthcare needs and the ways they access, utilize and benefit from care.