chapter  1
46 Pages

Gender as a Social Determinant of Health: Evidence, Policies, and Innovations


Gender relations of power constitute the root causes of gender inequality and are among the most infl uential of the social determinants of health. They operate across many dimensions of life affecting how people live, work, and relate to each other. They determine whether people’s needs are acknowledged, whether they have voice or a modicum of control over their lives and health, whether they can realize their rights. Addressing the problem of gender inequality requires actions both outside and within the health sector because gender power relations operate across such a wide spectrum of human life and in such interrelated ways. Taking such actions is good for the health of all people-girls and boys, women and men. In particular, intersectoral action to address gender inequality is critical to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as has been shown by the report of Taskforce 3 on Gender Equality of the UN Millennium Project (Grown et al., 2005a, 2005b). Each one of the MDGs2 requires that strong efforts be made towards gender equality if the goal is to be achieved. Some of these efforts need to be within the health sector but many are outside. The health sector may take leadership but it must also act in collaboration with other sectors if these goals are to be achieved.