Gender, women and health

WHO gender mainstreaming strategy

Integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO

Following a series of international commitments and mandates such as the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) and ECOSOC Resolutions (1996, 1997, 2006), WHO is scaling up gender mainstreaming activities across all levels of its work. This is in line with the recently adopted United Nations system-wide policy on gender equality and the empowerment of women. In 2007, the 60th World Health Assembly (WHA) passed resolution WHA60.25 on integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO.

"The integration of gender analysis and action into the work of WHO would make an important contribution to its ongoing work on women's health", Dr Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General

In the resolution, the WHA noted the Strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO, which was approved by the Director-General.

The WHO gender mainstreaming strategy has four key strategic directions:

  • Build WHO capacity for gender analysis and planning
  • Bring gender into the mainstream of WHO's management
  • Promote the use of sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis
  • Establish accountability

The WHO gender mainstreaming 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 and guidelines, making policies and implementing programmes.

Recap of gender definition

Gender equality

"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

"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 strengths 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

"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.

Related documents

Publication: Strategy for integrating gender analysis and actions into the work of WHO
Resolution WHA60.25 on WHO gender strategy