By invitation only
29-30 April 2019
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognises gender equality and women’s
empowerment as a standalone goal (SDG 5) that must be achieved in its own right, as well as an
accelerator that will enable and contribute to the achievement of the other Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs). The health SDG of ‘ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages’
(SDG 3) is closely and indubitably interconnected with gender equality and its intersection with other
determinants of health, as is any progress towards universal health coverage (UHC). The UN and
Member states have re-committed themselves to mainstreaming gender in all policies and programmes and the UN system has put in place several policies and processes to fulfil these commitments, such as the UN System-Wide Approach towards gender equality and the empowerment of women (UN-SWAP), and the UN Secretary-General’s Policy on Gender Parity.
Despite bold commitments, organizational processes, and a plethora of resources, tool kits, and online
training courses, progress has remained limited. Gender mainstreaming is often invisible, misunderstood and/or irrelevant to health policy-makers, programme staff, implementers and practitioners.
While there is a considerable body of evidence and lessons learned from experience in applying gender
mainstreaming in certain health areas, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), maternal health, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, there is a need to consider their applicability in newer, non-traditional areas, such as UHC, health systems strengthening, NCDs, and
climate change. At the institutional level, better understanding is required of good practices and
effective mechanisms to directly support capacity and accountability for programmatic mainstreaming.
To accelerate change and impacts, there is an urgent need in the global health field to identify and
implement evidence-base action framework, gender equality has been identified as an area where a common approach and collective action will add value and increase impact. This aligns closely with the UN Secretary-General’sreform agenda. WHO already has a mandate to mainstream gender through the 2007 World Health Resolution and Strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into WHO’s work (WHA 60.25), and a “Roadmap for Action (2014-2019) for Integrating Equity, Gender and Human Rights into the Work of WHO”.
The United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) has recently adopted a new strategy (2019-2023) with a focus on generating policy-relevant analysis and evidence on effective approaches to reducing gender disparities in health. As a think tank for the UN on global
health, it aims to support the work of key UN agencies and programmes in this area and serve as a
neutral convenor for evidence-based discussion and consensus-building.
UNU-IIGH and WHO are co-convening an expert consultation to discuss and debate the evidence base on what works in gender and health. This is expected to form the basis for a joint programme of work
to review, synthesise and consolidate learning and evidence on how to promote gender equality in
health policies, programmes, practices, workplaces and people’s lives. The outcomes are expected to
inform the Global Action Plan, WHO’s 13th GPW, UN-SWAP and supplement existing frameworks for
Specific Objectives and Expected Outcomes
This meeting will be designed to enable exchange and conversations. It will provide space for frank
exchange across UN agencies, academics and other experts working on gender mainstreaming and
health. The sessions are expected to be highly interactive to ensure ample time to debate and identify
challenges, good practices, gaps and research questions.
1. To learn from good practices and experiences at the country, regional and headquarter level
regarding what successful gender mainstreaming, particularly but not only limited to health,
looks like, specifically going beyond analysis, M&E and policy advice to actual implementation
support, and mainstreaming in non-traditional health areas;
2. To reflect on synthesized evidence and good practices in integrating gender equality
programmatically, as well as in establishing effective institutional mechanisms across UN
agencies and civil society organizations working on health;
3. To identify evidence and action gaps and priorities for strengthening the promotion of gender
equality in different programmatic health areas, and institutional accountability mechanisms;
4. To identify next steps in implementing successful gender mainstreaming in various areas of
health, including future convening, joint work priorities, and evidence needs.
Specific outcomes include:
1. A critical scan of good practices, lessons learned and challenges in gender mainstreaming,
particularly in health, across a range of contexts;
2. An evidence-informed and policy-relevant action and research agenda for the UN to continue
to advance gender mainstreaming in health;
3. A joint programme of work between UNU-IIGH and WHO in response to pressing needs for
further evidence building and policy analysis on gender mainstreaming in health.
This joint consultation will be the first in an engagement process to co-construct the agenda and co-produce the evidence towards strengthening gender mainstreaming. The dialogue will include
participants from WHO (headquarters, regional and country offices), experts with gender
mainstreaming roles in governments, UN agencies with health-related mandates (UNICEF, UNFPA,
UNDP, UN Women, UNAIDS), experts on gender mainstreaming from academia, civil society and other
global health organizations.