Gender Inequality in Global Health Demands Prompt Solutions: Report

December 28, 2018  Editor: Xie Wen

The gap between vision and reality still exists in health for women, according to the 2018 Global Health 50/50 Report published recently on a website of the World Health Organization.

The report aims to promote gender equality in the global health, focusing on the intersections of multiple sustainable development goals including health, gender equality, reduction of inequality and the fostering of an inclusive society and institutions.

The report is a comprehensive review of the implementation of gender-equality policies in programs and the workplace through the investigation of 140 leading health organizations.

According to one survey, 55 percent of the 140 global health agencies have made public commitments to gender equality; fewer than one-third of organizations define gender in a manner that is consistent with global norms, a prerequisite for effective and equitable programming. Most of them lack instructional strategies on plans for advancing gender equality. Only 40 percent mention gender in their plans and strategy documents. Some 40 percent have provided health services specifically for women's and girls. Most fail to explicitly adopt measures to promote gender equality.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of organizations do not disaggregate their program data by sex; 55 percent are principally committed to promoting gender equality in the workplace, 43 percent of which have specific strategies to support women's career development; and, 30 percent make no reference to workplace gender equality.

In addition, some 69 percent of the institutions are headed by men; 80 percent of board chairs are men; and, there lacks gender parity in governing bodies and senior management.

Therefore, more work has to be done to promote gender equality in health organizations around the world with extra supervision and promotion, say the authors.

Specialized gender equality experts are urged to carry out detailed assistance work to help formulate practical and specific policies and viable approaches to help with implementation.

The report also presents recommendations across the seven domains of organizational commitment to gender equality. Leaders in organizations need to exercise commitment to gender equality and incentivize policies and practices that respond to evidence on the impact of gender on the health, well-being and careers of women and men.

They should conduct gender-related analysis to provide information to benefit the development, implementation, and testing of programs so that they can give an insight of the impact of gender on the achievement of universal healthcare.

They should also assess whether or how to take gender equality and its specific implementation into the system; support employees to achieve a balance between life and occupation through policies on work arrangements and paid maternity leave.

They must implement the system of equal pay for equal work, and demonstrate and implement zero tolerance for sexual and gender harassment.

Meanwhile, they also have to pay attention and establish clear measures to achieve gender balance in staff management, recruitment, retention and promotion.

Member of the report's advisory council, Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, also WHO assistant director-general for drug access, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, stated that the notion that gender issues are only relevant to women is outdated.

She says the most urgent task is to analyze gender determinants in health and explore how gender affects the health and well-being of all since it involves everyone, rather than just women.

(Source: Translated and edited by Women of China)

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