Gender and Health Promotion: Making the Connection

It is internationally recognized that gender is among the most influential of the determinants of health, and that gender roles can affect health (2). Evidence increasingly demonstrates that health care interventions—including health promotion—are more effective if they are designed with gender in mind (3).

International development organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), and the World Health Organization (WHO) and non-governmental organizations such as CARE, EngenderHealth, International Planned Parenthood and the Population Council have taken the lead in implementing “gender transformative” initiatives that address gender norms and inequalities. But outside these contexts, the health promotion field has lagged in integrating gender into its vision and practice.

 

How have health promotion frameworks considered gender?

Gelb, Pederson and Greaves (2011) provide an historical analysis on the inclusion/exclusion of gender from health promotion frameworks. Overall, there has been limited inclusion or action on gender. Mostly, “considerations of sex and gender and their relationship to health promotion have been taken up in the fields of reproductive and sexual health, particularly within the fields of maternal-child health and HIV/AIDS.” However, they point out that “[t]here are several who have, and continue to critically examine, discuss and promote gender in health promotion work….looking to the broader social structures and contexts that influence health to draw from in developing more effective health promotion particularly for women.”

Gelb, K., Pederson, A., & Greaves, L. (2011). How have health promotion frameworks considered gender? Health Promotion International. doi: 10.1093/heapro/DAR087. [Open Access]

 

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