Gender is the socially constructed differences between women and men of what is means to be a woman or a man, or a girl or a boy. As a result, opportunities, role expectations, and subsequent consequences of gendered responsibilities make a huge difference to health outcomes. Whereas, sex refers to biological and physical characteristics to define humans as male, female or intersex26.
The equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities of women, men and gender-diverse people. Equality does not mean that women and men will become the same but that women’s and men’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female27.
Gender inequality affects men too:
- Traditional stereotypes are often difficult to live up to.
- Men may face discrimination or disapproval when taking on career paths, caring responsibilities and activities traditionally undertaken by women.
- In 2015 around 76% of suicides were by men29.
- Prevents violence against women and girls.
- Provides economic benefit.
- Is a human right.
- Delivers social benefits30.
Gender Tranformative Policy
Over the past decade and a half, sex and gender have emerged as critically important factors affecting health. Gender transformative policy and practice is regarded as most effective approach to transforming harmful gender norms and restructuring the determinants of gender inequality.
Gender sensitive policy and practice can also challenge gender inequality and improve women’s health outcomes. Gender transformative policy and practice considers the way traditional gender roles and stereotypes impact on how women and men control and improve their health.
By addressing the values and behaviours associated with ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’, gender transformative policy and practice aims to redefine gender roles and relationships and transform unequal gender relations.
This may take time, but the changes achieved are more likely to bring long-term and sustainable benefits28.
26 Victorian State Government 2017, Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy, Victorian State Government. 27 ibid 28 Greaves L, Pederson, A & Poole N 2014, Making it Better: Gender-Transformative Health Promotion, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc./Women’s Press, Toronto, Ontario. 29 Victorian State Government 2017, Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy, Victorian State Government. 30 ibid