Gender-neutral language

« Back to Glossary Index

Also known as gender-responsive or gender-sensitive language is one in which everyone is treated as equal. Gender-responsive language is meant to provide a conducive learning environment for everyone (FAWE, 2006). It ensures the realisation of gender equality in written and spoken language, which is ‘attained when women and men and those who do not conform to the binary gender system are made visible and addressed in language as persons of equal value, dignity, integrity and respect… Avoiding sex- and gender-based discrimination starts with language, as the systematic use of gender-biased terminology influences attitudes and expectations and could, in the mind of the reader or listener, relegate women to the background or help perpetuate a stereotyped view of women’s and men’s roles. There are number of different strategies that can be used to express gender relationships with accuracy, such as avoiding, to the greatest possible extent, the use of language that refers explicitly or implicitly to only one gender, and ensuring, through inclusionary alternatives and according to each language’s characteristics, the use of gender-sensitive and inclusive language’ (EIGE, 2021).

EIGE (European Institute for Gender Equality). 2021. ‘gender-sensitive language’. In: Glossary & Thesaurus. Accessed 15 August 2021:

FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). 2006. Gender Responsive Pedagogy. Working Document Draft for the Biennale on Education in Africa. Libreville: ADEA (Asosciation for the Development of Education in Africa). Retrieved from:

To explore further
Chan, L. H. 2010. Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainable Development: Guidelines and Tools — Gender Sensitizing. Bangkok: UNESCO Bangkok. Retrieved from:

Mekonnen, D.; Cherinet, H. 2020. Gender-responsive education: toolkit for teachers, teacher educators, school managers and curriculum developers in Africa. Addis-Abeba: UNESCO-IICBA (UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa). Retrieved from:

United Nations. n.d. Guidelines for gender-inclusive language in English. Accessed 30 April 2019:

« Back to Glossary Index
Back to top