Gender equity in health: debates and dilemmas

Soc Sci Med. 2000 Sep;51(6):931-9. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(00)00072-1.


Gender equity is increasingly cited as a goal of health policy but there is considerable confusion about what this could mean either in theory or in practice. If policies for the promotion of gender equity are to be realisable their goal must be the equitable distribution of health related resources. This requires careful identification of the similarities and differences in the health needs of men and women. It also necessitates an analysis of the gendered obstacles that currently prevent men and women from realising their potential for health. This article explores the impact of gender divisions on the health and the health care of both women and men and draws out some of the policy implications of this analysis. It outlines a three point agenda for change. This includes policies to ensure universal access to reproductive health care, to reduce gender inequalities in access to resources and to relax the constraints of rigidly defined gender roles. The article concludes with a brief overview of the practical and political dilemmas that the implementation of such policies would impose.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Policy*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Needs Assessment
  • Pregnancy
  • Prejudice
  • Women's Health Services*