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In public spheres of life in both developing and developing countries, men are more often office bearers and decisions makers in positions of authority than women, and women more likely experience economic, social and health disadvantage. The near universality of this experience leads to the assumption that this disadvantage is a natural state of being, rooted in fundamental sex differences between males and female. However, while disadvantage for women is most prevalent in patriarchal societies, in matriarchal societies it is men who experience this disadvantage, clearly demonstrating that it is the gender or social role ascribed to the sexes by a society that dictates social advantage or disadvantage, rather that the sex itself. The social dominance of one gender over another is inscribed into the language, meanings, cultural and economic practices and social institutions of all societies, but like any social practice it can change over time. Societies and social institutions that believe in human rights are increasingly seeking to redress the imbalances that exist between men and women in all societies for the sake of social justice.
Particularly in large westernised democracies, migration over generations has resulted in increasingly diverse populations. This not only means that clients of both public and private sector institutions are increasingly diverse but that the recruitment pool for a workforce to service the needs of those clients is also increasingly diverse. This diversity or difference on the basis of a multitude of factors such as gender, race or ethnicity, physical ability, age, socio-economic status, sexual identity or orientation and religious, political and ethical beliefs or ideology amongst both clients and workers can present unique opportunities along with unique challenges to an institution. If those opportunities and challenges are managed openly, consciously and respectfully, they can be of great benefit to both the institution and to its clients.