Guidelines for the analysis of gender and health

Guidelines for the analysis of gender and health

Tool for recognising and changing gender inequalities in the health sector

How can health practitioners, researchers and managers better develop their gender analysis and learn to work in a more gender-sensitive manner? Researchers from the Gender and Health Group of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have proposed a series of guidelines for improving gender analysis amongst health professionals. They supplement their proposals with a number of case studies taken from a wide variety of countries in the developing world.

The guidelines are divided into three sections. Section one provides background information, by introducing the concepts of gender, health and gender analysis. Section two is made up of three sets of guidelines: constructing a gender analysis framework; gender sensitive planning; and strategies for addressing gender inequalities. To close, section three illustrates the proposals with a number of case studies.

Improving gender analysis and gender-sensitive planning requires posing questions in a variety of health-related areas. These include:

  • How do various factors (such as the environment, resources, and gender norms) affect who gets ill?
  • What are the factors affecting responses to illnesses? How can an understanding of these factors improve gender awareness and analysis amongst health professionals?
  • What is the status of gender in the policy environment? Answering this question may help practitioners consider which areas offer the greatest possibilities for change, and which pose constraints.
  • Who makes and influences health care policy, planning and management decisions? How could the representation of women in decision making be improved?
  • How might financing and human resource aspects of the health sector have different effects on men and women?
  • How do gender relations influence the design and implementation of clinical research trials? Does research take measures to include gender differentials in assessment and analysis?

Reviewing the answers to these questions will help to improve overall gender analysis and understanding amongst health professionals and researchers. There are a number of strategies that can then be implemented to reduce gender inequity in the health sector:

  • Mainstreaming gender awareness in policy: this involves officially recognising the need to influence all methodologies, analyses, policies and planning from a gender perspective and outlining arrangements to ensure this takes place.
  • Training and awareness raising: this can take the form of gender training programmes, the incorporation of gender issues through staff training, or seminars and publications on gender.
  • Changing service provision to improve access and quality: building an understanding among providers of gender issues and the skills to address them is central to the quality and therefore the accessibility of services.
  • Improving information systems: this may involve integrating a gender equity focus into training at all levels of health system information collection, or improving the participation of communities in information collection and use.
  • Improving the environment: this may taken the form of lobbying for improved housing for deprived areas, or developing legislation to protect disadvantaged groups of workers.
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