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  WHO > Programmes and projects > Gender, women and health > What is "gender mainstreaming"?
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Integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO

Following a series of international mandates such as the ECOSOC Resolutions (1997 & 2006) and the Beijing Platform for Action, WHO is taking a gender-based approach to its work. This is in line with the recently adopted UN system-wide strategy to mainstream gender.

The WHO Gender Strategy will implement actions to ensure that gender equality and health equity are incorporated into the Organization's work, including planning and management processes. In other words, WHO will strengthen its capacity to analyse and address the role of gender and sex in all its functional areas: building evidence, developing norms and standards, tools, guidelines, making policies and implementing programmes.

The responsibility for implementing the strategy lies with WHO staff at all levels and the process will be catalysed by the Gender, Women & Health Network. The network has developed various tools to build the capacity of WHO staff for implementing the strategy.

"The integration of gender analysis and action into the work of WHO would make an important contribution to its ongoing work on women and health."

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO

This strategy has four key goals:

  • Build WHO capacity for gender analysis in planning and programming.

  • Reflect gender in WHO's programme budgets.

  • Promote the use of sex-disaggregated data to set up successful gender interventions.

  • Establish accountability.

GENDER EQUALITY is the absence of discrimination - on the basis of a person's sex - in providing opportunities, in allocating resources and benefits or in access to services.

GENDER EQUITY refers to fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits and responsibilities between women and men. The concept recognizes that women and men have different needs and powers and that these differences should be identified and addressed to rectify the imbalance between the sexes.

GENDER is used to describe those characteristics of women and men which are socially constructed, while SEX refers to those which are biologically determined.

GENDER ANALYSIS identifies, analyses and informs action to address health inequalities that arise from the different roles of women and men, or the unequal power relationships between them, and the consequences of these inequalities on their health.

People are born female or male but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men. This learned behaviour makes up gender identity and determines gender roles.

:: United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

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