Gender and global health: evidence, policy and inconvenient truths

Hawkes, S.
Buse, K.
The Lancet
Publication date: 
January 2013

Do major global health actors including programs, research, and institutions have strategies and policies in place to ensure that men and women benefit equally, and that health inequity is not perpetuated? This study analysed the recent Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study to compare rates of morbidity and mortality risk between men and women.

In particular, they reviewed the burdensome risks of alcohol and unsafe sex to examine the role that gender norms have on health disparities. The authors also reviewed cross-national data sets comparing health seeking between genders, and examined whether gender was addressed in the health strategies of global health institutions and organisations. Through this review, the authors highlight that comparisons of health-seeking behaviour among genders is limited, that gender is absent from the majority of strategic plans and core objectives for health institutions and organisations, and the general tendency to undermine or misinterpret the role of gender on health, or focus it exclusively on the health needs of women.

The paper provides strategies for mainstreaming gender-related evidence into global health policies, programmes, research, monitoring and evaluation, using an approach that addresses social norms towards greater gender equality and health equity. The authors also stress how specific actors, including commercial and institutional actors, reinforce unequal and stereotypical gender norms and suggest that concrete strategies be developed and implemented to address these interests.

The Lancet 38.9879:1783-1787.
Hawkes, S. and Buse, K. (2013) ‘Gender and global health: evidence, policy and inconvenient truths', The Lancet 381.9879: 1783-1787.
Health policy
men’s health