New Partnership for Better Evidence and Accelerated Action on Gender Equality in Health

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  • 2020•09•10     Kuala Lumpur

    Unsplash photo by Oliver Twist

    The United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) has been awarded a grant of USD 2.25 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the establishment of a Gender and Health Policy Hub to generate evidence and accelerate action for gender equality in global health policy and programming. The Gates Foundation, the largest philanthropic funder in global development, is a new funder for the United Nations University (UNU).

    Dr David Malone, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Rector of UNU, welcomed this partnership, stating that “the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s support to UNU and its mandate, as an expert research body engaging with policymakers and academia, offers tremendous potential for UNU and the UN to accelerate evidence-based action supporting gender equality globally.”

    The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’ (SDG3) is inextricably linked to gender equality (SDG 5), as is any progress towards universal health coverage. Despite twenty-five years of high-level commitments by the UN and Member States to integrate gender in health policies and programmes, gender inequality continues to undermine health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark reflection of the gendered impacts that containment measures and overloaded health systems have on women’s and girls’ care burden, exposure to violence, and access to essential health services. Although health systems and programmes can do better to promote gender-equitable norms and policies, there is a lack of evidence, systematic documentation, and learning on what works to effectively integrate gender in health. Without this evidence, and a real commitment to systemic change, gender integration will remain a tokenistic add-on, health investments will not be optimised, and policies and programmes will fail to redress gender inequities.

    With an expected launch in October 2020, the new Gender and Health Policy Hub will provide a platform for collaboration, practice-based learning, and co-production of critical analyses and evidence. It will also work to broker new partnerships and alliances to extend the sources of evidence and support dissemination and policy translation. The idea for the Hub was conceived during the “What Works in Gender and Health” meeting that was co-convened by the World Health Organization and UNU-IIGH in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April 2019.

    Professor Pascale Allotey, Director of UNU-IIGH, said “I am delighted with this partnership for several reasons. First, it is a unique opportunity to combine evidence, practice-based knowledge and a deep understanding of context to identify and scale up what works in gender and health. Second, there is a window to capitalise on with the growing discourse on gender equality, catalysed by the SDGs, social movements, and efforts to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, the funding from the Gates Foundation provides a critical opportunity to influence how health investments are made to support the achievement of gender equality.”


    For further information about the Gender and Health Policy Hub

    UNU-IIGH – Vidisha Mishra, Project Manager