World Health Organization (WHO)

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Recent policy statements
A gender policy was approved by the WHO Cabinet in March 2002 and has
been disseminated to staff accompanied by a Statement from the Director
General emphasizing its importance. The implementation of the WHO gender
policy is being strengthened throughout the Organization.
Good practice
Operational activities
Gender based violence is major risk fac-
A senior level cross-organizational Gender Task Force has been appointed by the
tor for the ill health and lack of wellbe-
Director-General to oversee the implementation of the Gender Policy. Gender
ing of girls and women around the
focal points in each programme or initiative at WHO headquarters, together with
world. Therefore,a WHO multi-country
the core gender staff in the Department of Gender and Women's Health and core
study on women is being completed in
gender staff in the Regional Offices, form the WHO Gender Team. Gender focal
seven culturally diverse countries
points in each programme or initiative at WHO Headquarters, together with the
(Bangladesh, Brazil, Japan, Namibia,
core gender staff in the Department of Gender and Women’s Health constitute
Peru, Thailand and United Republic of
WHO’s Gender team. The policy is so far available in five of the six official UN
Tanzania). It has obtained data on preva-
languages. An expert meeting was held in November 2002, that helped identify
lence and frequency of different forms
priority areas of work by WHO and developed strategies for integrating gender
of gender-based violence; conse-
concerns in its work at the international, regional and country levels.
quences of domestic violence on
women’s health (reproductive health,
In terms of papers and publications produced, in the area of gender analysis in
injuries, use of health services, etc.);
health, WHO commissioned a series of review papers on gender and different
risk and protective factors; and strate-
health topics such as: malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, suicide, asthma, etc.
gies that women use to reduce or deal
These are being compiled into an edited volume on gender analysis in health to
with the violence. The study is at the
be published in the latter half of 2002. A series of gender and health information
cutting edge of research in this field and
sheets are being developed, based on the above reviews. For each topic, the
has amassed important data that will be
sheet summarizes: what is known, what research is needed, and what are the
important in shaping strategies for pre-
implications for policy and programming. Information sheets are already avail-
vention and for interventions for the
able on: gender and blindness, gender and mental health, gender and tuberculo-
health sector and other support servic-
sis, gender and road traffic injuries, gender and health in disasters, gender and
es. At country level the Study has had
HIV/AIDS, and gender and tobaco. Others under preparation include gender,
tremendous impact, facilitating the
health and ageing, gender and malaria, and gender, work and health.
development of networks between
WHO organized a panel entitled “Gender and Work related Issues: Moving the
researchers and women’s organizations
Agenda Forward” at the International Congress on Women, Work and Health
and increasing awareness and action on
held in June 2002. Three invited speakers highlighted gender and health issues
the problem.
globally in relation to industrial work, agricultural work, and sex work. The pur-
pose of the panel was to draw up recommendations on how to promote interna-
tional efforts to address gender concerns in work-related fields. An edited vol-
ume and a fact sheet will subsequently be released containing the presentations
and recommendations.
Department of Gender and Women’s
In terms of development of tools and guidelines for gender analysis, WHO has
20, avenue Appia
commissioned a review of existing tools and guidelines for 'mainstreaming gen-
1211 Geneva 27
der' and their applicability to health. A thorough and very interesting review has
been produced and is available through the gender web-site (
Fax: 41-22-791-418
der). However, the document is too detailed for non-gender specialists, so a
E-mail: [email protected]
shorter programmatic tool on how to apply gender analysis in health has been
developed- 'Mainstreaming Gender in Health: A WHO Manual for Health
Managers'.This is now being tested with WHO staff. The Regional Office for
Europe (EURO) is piloting guidelines for gender mainstreaming health pro-
[email protected]

grammes in two countries in the region. Efforts are under way in at least two
Regional Offices to work on gender indicators for health situation analysis and
to develop a core set of gender and health indicators for use throughout WHO.
EURO is also conducting a multi-country analysis of success criteria for plan-
ning and implementing gender sensitive health policies. Further, the WHO
Regional Office for the Americas plans to prepare conceptual documents on
'Gender equity in health sector reform' and 'Evaluation of health policies from a
gender perspective'.
In June 2002, WHO held a consultation on ‘Integrating gender into HIV/AIDS
programmes’ which brought together national AIDS programme managers, poli-
cy makers, NGOs and others working on gender issues in HIV/AIDS. Draft
guidelines are currently under revision and will be tested in 4-5 countries. A
review paper was prepared as background to these guidelines and is available
on the Department of Gender and Women's Health website.
WHO is developing a Resource Kit for Integrating Gender Considerations in
Health Research. The objectives of the resource kit are to raise awareness of the
need for integration of gender in health research, to provide practical guidance
on how to do this and to identify policies and mechanisms that can contribute to
the engendering of health research. The target group for the guidelines will be
researchers, managers or research or research institutions as well as funders of
The WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region (WPRO) is working on
the development of a toolkit, to improve the awareness, knowledge and skills of
health care providers in the Region on poverty and gender concerns through the
integration into training curricula. It aims to strengthen policy making, service
delivery and programme planning through improved capacities of health work-
ers to analyse and address the interrelationships between poverty, gender and
health. WPRO is also working on gender based violence and health and is
implementing a study in China on domestic violence against pregnant and post-
partum women and the impact on women and children. A study on medico-
legal services related to persons who have experienced sexual violence is also
underway, which will feed into the review of the WHO protocol for the medical
management of child and adult survivors of sexual violence.
As an entry point to gender mainstreaming, the WHO Regional Office for Africa
(AFRO) is undergoing a preliminary gender analysis in HIV/AIDS and Sexual
and Reproductive Health programmes at regional level and in four countries.
These two programmes were selected due to their inter-relatedness in cause and
effect. The purpose is to gather views and ideas from programme officers and
experts in the fields to adapt the generic gender analysis tools and make them
more African specific. In addition, ways will be identified to mainstream gender
into the two programmes. A gender mapping exercise is underway to evaluate
the existing resources for gender work in the Region.
The South-East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) is working on several mainstream-
ing strategies in the region. These include supporting the introduction of gender
concepts into the medical education curricula in Member Countries, strengthen-
ing national capacity to collect and use sex-disaggregated data for gender analy-
sis of health issues and reviewing regional and country workplans for all areas of
work to ensure that gender considerations are included in indicators. SEARO is
also working with several member countries on specific issues in women's health
where gender discrimination plays an important role, such as violence against
women, the needs of elderly women and health risks among female workers.
A project underway at the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific Region
aims to train peer community workers and professionals in Korea who are
working with battered women, to increase their knowledge and skills about
domestic violence to assess their clients’ needs and intervene effectively. I