Gender, women and health

2009 Highlights

Define a strategic focus and agenda for improving women's health in collaboration with a range of stakeholders and partners

GWHN, in collaboration with WHO departments and donors, is working to improve women's health through policy dialogues, advocacy and policy implementation in several ways.

International Women's Day

International Women's Day on 8 March focused on the theme "Women and men united to end violence against women and girls". Violence is a leading public health problem worldwide, and there is evidence that engaging men in addressing unequal power relations and social norms that condone violence can yield positive results.

Best practices competition

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), in cooperation with UNFPA and the World Bank, focuses its attention on best practices that address the different health needs of women and men. One of the 2009 winners, Brazil's Federal University of Sao Carlos, aims at changing violent behaviours within families, in collaboration with the city's municipality. "Empowering families in order to combat domestic violence" was first implemented in police stations and then integrated into the municipal drive to address violence in the home.

"Our annual Best practice competition, in its third year now, rewards those whose best practice contributes to efficiency, access and equity in policies, programmes and health services. Changes in attitudes towards violence have been noticed among the 800 beneficiaries, mainly parents, of the Federal University of Sao Carlos' programme to combat domestic violence." Marijke Velzeboer-Salcedo, Chief, Gender, Ethnicity & Health Unit

WHO report "Women and health"

Despite considerable progress in the past decades, societies still fail to meet the health care needs of women at key moments of their lives, particularly in their adolescent years and in older age. These are the key findings of the WHO report Women and health: today's evidence tomorrow's agenda. GWHN facilitated the worldwide launch of the report with the financial support from the Aspen Institute's Realizing Rights: Ethical Globalization Initiative, and hosted an event at Geneva Headquarters to call for urgent action both within the health sector and beyond.

"We look forward to working with WHO and other multilateral partners in taking this agenda forward. The focus must be on achieving improved tangible health outcomes for girls and women. It will require leadership, political will and prioritization of resources towards these goals." Swedish Presidency of the European Union

Extensive audio-visual and print material was developed, most of it in the six official WHO languages. GWH mobilized more than 20 statements of endorsement from WHO key partners, governments and nongovernmental organizations. More than 200 media pieces were published in the first two days following the press conference, and the number of visitors on the relevant WHO web pages more than doubled, demonstrating the profound interest in women's health.

In 2010 and 2011, GWHN will facilitate policy dialogues on various aspects of the agenda set forth in the WHO report "Women and health".

Online discussion on women and health

WHO moderated an online discussion Women and health: how far have we come since Beijing, hosted by WomenWatch. The discussion was one of the liveliest in a UN series, with 326 community members from 66 countries. The resulting report summarizes the review of achievements, challenges, gaps, good practices and recommendations in the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action from various perspectives.

Related links

For full menu of GWHN's work, please contact:

Department of Gender, Women and Health, WHO/Geneva