Gender Mainstreaming in the Health Sector

Experiences in Commonwealth Countries

image of Gender Mainstreaming in the Health Sector
Improvement in health remains a challenge for all. However, the problem is more acute for women. There is a disparity between women and men in their ability to gain access to health care appropriate to them. Furthermore, the low status of women in less developed countries has been identified as a major obstacle to development. If women are to gain better access to health services they must be given the opportunity to work in partnership with men at all levels of the health sector, including the highest levels of policymaking. Together they must ensure that women’s specific needs are identified and addressed appropriately.

This book is the result of consensus built up in a series of workshops in different regions of the Commonwealth on what is the most effective way of applying Gender Management System principles and methodology to the health sector. The differing contexts of financial, human and other resources explored in Gender Mainstreaming in the Health Sector will assist other countries in adapting mainstreaming to their own particular circumstances.

This manual has been written to provide support and guidance to policymakers, planners, nongovernmental organisations, institutions and staff working in the health sector.



Mainstreaming Gender in the Health Sector: An Overview

In the twentieth century significant advances were made in raising the status of women. Prior to that, women faced discrimination in the political, legal, economic, social and other spheres of life. In many countries women, unlike men, did not have the right to vote nor did they enjoy basic human rights. They were clearly in a disadvantaged position in comparison to men. Gradually, progress was made in some countries and women began to enjoy some rights such as recognition of their independent legal status and the right to inherit and dispose of property. In employment, not only was it acknowledged that women had the right to all types and levels of work but it was also accepted that they had the right to equal pay for work of equal value. Many countries recognised that women had the right of access to all levels of education and should be given the opportunity to participate in all disciplines and reach the highest educational and professional levels. Slowly, women gained more access to political power and decision-making positions. A major advance was the recognition of good health as a fundamental human right for women and men that should be promoted and protected. It was also accepted that women had a right to full and equal access to all health services and that their special needs should be taken into account in providing these services. There was increasing awareness that women should have control of what happens to their bodies.


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