2022•08•19 Kuala Lumpur
Gender integration in health programs is essential to address inequalities in access to services, ensure the provision of quality care, transform harmful gender norms, and challenge power dynamics. Many successful examples of gender integration in health exist, but these are largely by civil society organisations. To achieve scale and further advance gender equality, they need to be implemented and owned by governments.
In order to develop policy lessons on how to successfully scale and sustain gender considerations into government programs, the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health is working with two leading regional public health institutes namely;
An open call was launched to crowdsource examples of successful gender integration in government health programmes in three regions: Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In addition to the open call, direct contact with key informants provided more leads, as did desk reviews. The eligibility criteria for inclusion were as follows;
|Regions||Health programs had to be implemented in Africa or South Asia or Southeast Asia.|
|Government involvement||Health programs had to Involve at least one government body either at the national or subnational level, including Ministries of Health or other Ministries, in programme design, implementation, or monitoring & evaluation.|
|Health focus||Health programmes can include initiatives implemented by Ministries of Health, as well as other Ministries, that contribute to improved health outcomes, which relate to and are not limited to community mobilisation, water and sanitation, nutrition, regulation of food, tobacco and alcohol, as well as health service delivery, health information systems, access to essential medicines, health workforce, health financing, leadership and governance.|
|Gender focus||Health programs had to address the needs and/or situations of particular gender groups (women, men, or non-binary people) and power inequalities or harmful gender norms (e.g., transforming gender norms to abandon and end female genital mutilation, transforming power relations within the health workforce).|
|Duration||Health programs had to have been active for at least 3 years|
Across the three regions, 51 potential case studies were identified, with 18 from Africa, 19 from South-East Asia and 14 from South Asia. The potential case studies are located in more than 26 countries across the three regions, with two being multi-country programs on female genital mutilation (FGM) and menstrual hygiene, respectively.
Some of the themes found are:
Summary tables providing further information on these potential case studies are listed here for Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Additionally, an interactive dashboard that maps potential case studies in countries across the focus regions can be accessed here.
Many submissions were by colleagues working in government ministries and those from UN agencies and technical implementing partners, which were usually civil society organisations. The latter was particularly prominent in the African region. Some examples were already evaluated as works in progress regarding gender integration in health, while others seemed more promising. Program duration also varied across the case study examples and regions, with many programs operating for more than three years.
While the documentation available across all these potential case studies is highly variable, we are excited to see many suggested examples of gender being integrated into government programs to advance gender equality and ensure more equitable health outcomes. Further exploration and dialogue are needed to better understand these potential case studies in all their diversity across health conditions, health systems and country contexts, and what they tell us about integrating gender into government health programs. Stay tuned!