Gender Transformation and Health Promotion

Gender transformative health promotion focuses on the dual goals of improving health as well as gender equity.

There are several key aspects of gender transformative health promotion. These include:

  • While recognizing sex and gender as fundamental determinants of health, gender transformative health promotion also encourages examining the links between sex, gender and other determinants such as race-ethnicity, income, education, occupation and the social and built environments and processes such as marginalization, discrimination, homophobia, racism and sexism (intersectional analysis)
  • Gender transformative health promotion works to overcome the tendency in health promotion to focus on women largely in their reproductive and care-giving roles
  • It pays critical attention to the tone and nature of health messages and campaigns and supports messaging that engages and informs women without deliberately or inadvertently playing to women’s fears, sexualizing women, or treating women as a homogeneous group (e.g., encouraging women to quit smoking to preserve their looks)

  • Rather than solely providing information, gender transformative health promotion seeks to place power — as knowledge, as choice, and as opportunity—into women’s hands.
  • Gender transformative health promotion encourages a shift from health promotion activities at the individual level which exhort women to change their behaviours or to adopt particular ‘lifestyles’ in order to be healthy, to generating a shared, social responsibility for women’s health.
  • Gender transformative health promotion recognizes the relevance of addressing men’s and boys’ influence on women’s health and how gendered assumptions may be hindering or helping men and boys achieve health as well. Gender transformative health promotion is interested in improving outcomes for all: women, men, girls and boys.

What is the difference between equity and equality?

The terms equity and equality are sometimes used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion because while these concepts are related, there are also important distinctions between them (6). Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equality, in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equity aims to ensure that all people have an equal opportunity to develop and maintain their health, through fair and just access to resources to health. Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things.

 

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