Gender, health and rights

Drawn on the experiences of community level experiments, national and global level advocacy allowing students to be part of the journey of several efforts in gender-based interventions.

Health inequity is a persistent development concern in India. Gender intersecting with others including caste, class and region plays a critical role in inequitable health outcomes. A nuanced understanding and analysis of gender in health is imperative to address gender-based health inequities. Gender is increasingly acknowledged as going beyond the binaries of male and female to accommodate other gender identities and sexual orientations. Biological sex and socially constructed gender interact to produce differential risks and vulnerability to ill health, differences in health seeking behaviour, in health care providers’ response and in health outcomes for women, men and other genders. Gender inequality leads to health risks for women and girls globally. Gender differences in morbidity and mortality represent avoidable’ and/​or unfair’ inequalities in health. Gender inequality hence has been framed as a human rights violation (CEDAW UN General Assembly 1979, article 1). Human rights of women and girls and gender equality are thus identified as a prerequisite for women’s health and well-being. Since gender is socially constructed, gender-based inequities in health are amenable to policy and programme interventions. Addressing gender norms and roles leads to a better understanding of how the social construction of identity and unbalanced power relations between men and women and others affect the risks, health-seeking behaviour and health outcomes of men, women and other genders in different age and social groups.