Aim: To systematically examine gender sensitivity in the policies formulated in the health plans of the various Autonomous Communities in Spain in which these plans are available. We defined gender sensitivity as the extent to which the health plans took gender into account as a relation category and developed interventions to ameliorate gender-related inequalities.
Material and methods: A questionnaire with a structure similar to that of the health plans, which were based on the World Health Organization's proposal, was designed. The questionnaire consisted of an introductory section, which we called the symbolic content, and described the general objectives and values of the health plan. In the other section, which we called the operative content of the health plan, the specific objectives and the interventions to achieve them were expressed in concrete terms. A gender sensitivity symbolic index and gender sensitivity operative index were constructed.
Results: Thirteen health plans were analyzed. Those of the Basque Country, the Valencian Community and the Canary Islands showed high symbolic content, which did not always match their subsequent operative implementation. The health plans of the Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia showed the greatest operative gender sensitivity.
Conclusions: Gender sensitivity in health plans varies widely among Autonomous Communities. Some channels for action would be to set up partnerships and networks for health professionals and collectives in order to raise awareness of the problem and build on the experience of the Autonomous Communities whose initiatives are carried out with the greatest gender sensitivity.