Working together to accomplish gender equality in health: World Health Organization

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Working together to accomplish gender equality in health: World Health Organization. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:286-7


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Working together to accomplish gender equality in health: World Health Organization. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2020 Dec 5];9:286-7. Available from:

Dear Sir,

Globally, a wide range of disparity with regard to health outcomes has been observed among the people, both across and within nations.[1] In fact, in contrast to the developed nations, almost 99% of the maternal deaths reported worldwide are from the developing nations.[1] Most of these disparities result owing to the social determinants prevalent in the community, and are avoidable and even unacceptable.[1],[2] Further, the health status of both males and females is significantly influenced by the biological sex and the socially constructed influences (gender).[3]

Although, most people are born as either male or female (biological sex), they are taught appropriate behaviors and ways of interacting with people of the same or the opposite sex, specific to the male or the female gender.[2] Gender equality in health means that irrespective of their gender, both men and women are entitled to have exposure to the same conditions and opportunities, so that they can realize their full rights and attain optimal health throughout their lifetime.[2] Even though, these gender-specific norms or relations per se do not precipitate any problem, a negative impact on health and well-being is observed when they start interfering with the limitation of opportunities or utilization of resources desired to attain optimal health.[2],[4]

A wide range of factors such as a limited commitment from policymakers, fragmented social relationships with family members and society, poor literacy status or income, low/minimal awareness about health services, poor level of self-confidence, inaccessibility to health establishments, and poor health care delivery have played a crucial role in augmenting the gender inequality.[3],[4],[5] Due to gender inequality, consequences like abuse from the partner (one in every three women has experienced either physical or sexual abuse from their husband); exposure to risk factors or vulnerability; neglect of nutrition, care, and education; restricted access to and use of health care services, bad experiences in health establishments, higher rates of morbidity and mortality, etc. have been reported among the female gender.[1],[2],[5],[6]

Acknowledging the scope and universal nature of the problem of gender inequality, there is a great need to involve the concerned stakeholders and thus formulate comprehensive strategies so that the public health menace of gender inequality can be addressed.[2],[3],[4] In fact, measures such as prioritizing the issue of gender inequality among the country’s policymakers, ensuring universal education, employing different modes of communication to create awareness among the general population about gender inequality, and ensuring active participation of the community, have been acknowledged as key interventions.[5] In addition, implementation of other strategies such as devising appropriate measures to target specific health risks of women, ensuring adoption of principles of gender mainstreaming across various policies, training health professionals to skillfully deal with women who have been exposed to abuse, and conducting counseling sessions for women (viz, focusing on the right to choose a marriage partner, control over her body, and to motivate them to seek health care services whenever needed) has been advocated as well.[4],[7],[8]

Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) and even other national/international stakeholders have repeatedly committed (as evidenced in Millennium Development Goal — 2000-2015, Sustainable Development Goal — 2015-2030) to address gender inequalities and inequities so that health for all can be achieved universally.[2] In fact, the WHO has adopted a strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into the their organization work in 2007, and even launched a roadmap for action (2014-2019) to not only establish accountability in the mainstreaming of the gender but also to achieve gender equality in health by mitigation of the existing barriers.[2],[9] In addition, multiple tools have additionally been developed by the WHO to ensure that gender is always taken into account at times of the formulation, implementation, and evaluation of health strategies.[2],[9]

To conclude, owing to the presence of gender inequality in health, the health status of millions of women across the world have been compromised. It is high time that the stakeholders do not limit themselves with the formulation of gender-sensitive policies, but devise an appropriate plan and take effective measures to convert plans into actions.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



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World Health Organization. Gender – Fact sheet No 403; 2015. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2015 Aug 22].
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World Health Organization. Gender mainstreaming for health managers: A practical approach. Geneva: WHO Press; 2011. p. 1-7.
Mahara GB, Dhital SR. Analysis of health sector gender equality and social inclusion strategy 2009 of Nepal. Kathmandu Univ Med J (KUMJ) 2014;12:157-60.
Falb KL, Annan J, Gupta J. Achieving gender equality to reduce intimate partner violence against women. Lancet Glob Health 2015;3:e302-3.
Samar S, Aqil A, Vogel J, Wentzel L, Haqmal S, Matsunaga E, et al. Towards gender equality in health in Afghanistan. Glob Public Health 2014;9(Suppl 1):S76-92.
Palència L, Malmusi D, De Moortel D, Artazcoz L, Backhans M, Vanroelen C, et al. The influence of gender equality policies on gender inequalities in health in Europe. Soc Sci Med 2014;117:25-33.
World Health Organization. Roadmap for action, 2014-2019 — Integrating equity, gender, human rights and social determinants into the work of WHO. Geneva: WHO press; 2015. p. 1-13.

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.184785

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