Global Health Liaisons aims to integrate a gender perspective into global health programs and research activities, to allow for strategies, implementation, and evaluations that increase equality and women’s empowerment, to better meet the health needs of women, girls, men, and boys. Gender roles are defined by social and cultural attitudes, behaviors, expectations, and responsibilities for men and women on the basis of their sex. It includes their positions in society, and the level of power they have in relation to each other. Men may be expected to be in control and strong, while women may be expected to be passive and emotional. Effective gender strategies contribute to healthy outcomes. Engagement of men and boys as partners to effect desired behavioral and social change.
GHL programs and activities specifically address gender norms and inequalities. These increase stigma and vulnerability to HIV infection, impact on access to health care and other services.
Our experience with TB and gender is in the context of the HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The strong relationship between TB and HIV requires a gender-sensitive approach to how TB, HIV and TB/HIV co-infection influences:
- Men’s and women’s health-seeking behavior
- Initiation of treatment
- Adherence to treatment
We recognize that good nutrition is a prerequisite for healthy families and communities. GHL focuses on improving nutrition for women and children by considering the specific socio-cultural context. We also address gender norms that contribute to:
- Food insecurity
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa affected women disproportionately because of their essential role as caregivers and healthcare workers. Recovery efforts must be gender-sensitive in addressing the disproportionate impact on women and girls. Issues of concern include:
- Shortage of health facilities
- Need for employment support
- Other safety net mechanisms for women survivors
Ultimately, women need to be involved as key stakeholders in all aspects of health interventions that affect them. Not just beneficiaries and participants in research, but also as decision-makers in the design, delivery, and oversight.