Chapter 1: Gender and health: an introduction
This volume brings together the contributions of 56 leading writers on gender and health from a wide range of countries spanning Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The chapters included in the Handbook offer a wealth of knowledge, theoretical reflection and empirical evidence on a diversity of topics that I selected as essential elements of a discussion around gender and health. The importance of gender inequality as a critical determinant of health has been widely acknowledged (Marmot et al., 2008) and there has been a widespread acceptance of the need to mainstream gender into its analysis. Nevertheless, significant gaps remain between policy and practice, and addressing gender issues in health requires more than merely ensuring women gain better access to services and resources within the health sector (Gideon, 2012; Hawkes and Buse, 2013; Payne, 2014). The discussion within the book emphasizes the need to move beyond the ‘add women and stir’ approach that is still frequently found in practice, despite all we now know about the complexities of seeking to achieve gender equality (Chant and Sweetman, 2012; Razavi, 2012). Much of the existing debate around gender and health has been primarily concerned with health outcomes; in contrast the discussion presented in this edited collection seeks to capture the multi-determinants of health and well-being as well as the organizational and institutional structure of the design and delivery of health care.