Universal access: making health systems work for women

BMC Public Health. 2012;12 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S4. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-S1-S4. Epub 2012 Jun 22.


Universal coverage by health services is one of the core obligations that any legitimate government should fulfil vis-à-vis its citizens. However, universal coverage may not in itself ensure universal access to health care. Among the many challenges to ensuring universal coverage as well as access to health care are structural inequalities by caste, race, ethnicity and gender. Based on a review of published literature and applying a gender-analysis framework, this paper highlights ways in which the policies aimed at promoting universal coverage may not benefit women to the same extent as men because of gender-based differentials and inequalities in societies. It also explores how 'gender-blind' organisation and delivery of health care services may deny universal access to women even when universal coverage has been nominally achieved. The paper then makes recommendations for addressing these.

Publication types

  • Congress

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / economics
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration*
  • Healthcare Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Universal Health Insurance / economics
  • Universal Health Insurance / organization & administration*