Gender inequality and restrictive gender norms: framing the challenges to health

The Lancet
Jun 15, 2019 Volume 393Number 10189p2359-2468, e42-e43


Gender Equality, Norms, and Health
Gender inequality and restrictive gender norms: framing the challenges to health
Lori Heise at el, on behalf of the Gender Equality, Norms and Health Steering Committee
Gender is not accurately captured by the traditional male and female dichotomy of sex. Instead, it is a complex social system that structures the life experience of all human beings. This paper, the first in a Series of five papers, investigates the relationships between gender inequality, restrictive gender norms, and health and wellbeing. Building upon past work, we offer a consolidated conceptual framework that shows how individuals born biologically male or female develop into gendered beings, and how sexism and patriarchy intersect with other forms of discrimination, such as racism, classism, and homophobia, to structure pathways to poor health. We discuss the ample evidence showing the far-reaching consequences of these pathways, including how gender inequality and restrictive gender norms impact health through differential exposures, health-related behaviours and access to care, as well as how gender-biased health research and health-care systems reinforce and reproduce gender inequalities, with serious implications for health…