Disrupting gender norms in health systems: making the case for change

The Lancet, Gender Equality, Norms, and Health Steering Committee, Published May 30, 2019

Summary

Restrictive gender norms and gender inequalities are replicated and reinforced in health systems, contributing to gender inequalities in health.
In this Series paper, we explore how to address all three through recognition and then with disruptive solutions.
We used intersectional feminist theory to guide our systematic reviews, qualitative case studies based on lived experiences, and quantitative analyses based on cross-sectional and evaluation research.
We found that health systems reinforce patients’ traditional gender roles and neglect gender inequalities in health, health system models and clinic-based programmes are rarely gender responsive, and women have less authority as health workers than men and are often devalued and abused.
With regard to potential for disruption, we found that gender equality policies are associated with greater representation of female physicians, which in turn is associated with better health outcomes, but that gender parity is insufficient to achieve gender equality. We found that institutional support and respect of nurses improves quality of care, and that women’s empowerment collectives can increase health-care access and provider responsiveness.
We see promise from social movements in supporting women’s reproductive rights and policies. Our findings suggest we must view gender as a fundamental factor that predetermines and shapes health systems and outcomes. Without addressing the role of restrictive gender norms and gender inequalities within and outside health systems, we will not reach our collective ambitions of universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals. We propose action to systematically identify and address restrictive gender norms and gender inequalities in health systems.

I looked at 100 best-selling picture books: female protagonists were largely invisible

Sarah Mokrzycki, The Conversation, June 3, 2019 6.08am AEST

In April 2019, I examined the 100 bestselling picture books at Australian book retailer Dymocks: an almost 50/50 mix of modern and classic stories (the majority being published in the past five years).

I discovered that despite the promising evolution of the rebel girl trend, the numbers tell us that picture books as a whole remain highly gendered and highly sexist. Worse – female protagonists remain largely invisible.

How we tackle gender in picture books is important, as they help inform children’s understanding of the world and themselves.