Political will, country ownership, and technical capacity are needed to address gender inequalities in health. Health data collected in many countries are currently gender blind, resulting in data gathered on “households, couples, and children” without analyzing the sex and gender differentiated needs and constraints of women and men or girls and boys. By the time girls are capable of getting pregnant, they have often faced a lifetime neglect and discrimination, solely based on their femaleness. Disaggregating health data by sex and analyzing that data to determine gender related health dimensions is essential to improve the health of women and girls. These themes were part of discussion and conclusions at the Policy Dialogue for Better Evidence to Improve Women’s Health through Gender and Health Statistics, organized by the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization and co-sponsored by MLI and USAID. T he Policy Dialogue, held October 25-27 in Washington, DC, featured more than 90 international participants including senior health officials and statisticians from the public and private sectors.
The Policy Dialogue concluded with a Call to Action that promoted the following guiding principles:
– Political will must be created and sustained
– Health Ministries must lead in reducing gender-based health inequities
– Health Information & National Statistical Systems are key partners
– Multiple stakeholders need to be involved
– Adherence to international mandates & commitments is critical
– Women must be engaged and empowered in all stages
A Partners’ Roundtable, held October 28 and moderated by MLI Director, Rosann Wisman brought together global donors and regional WHO representatives to discuss how greater donor collaboration and coordination can enhance progress towards improved statistics for women’s health. Ms.
Wisman noted that “while broad technical capacity and systems development to collect and analyze data is essential, it was also encouraging to hear the participants acknowledge the critical role of Ministries of Health and that country ownership was the first step.”
The meetings were a follow-up to the WHO report Women and Health: Today’s Evidence Tomorrow’s Agenda, also supported by MLI. The report provides the latest global figures on women’s health and identifies specific needs and health challenges that face women from birth to old age. In addition, the report highlights the need to advance evidence-based policies to improve the health of women by developing and/or strengthening regional and country capacities to generate, analyze and use gender, equity and women’s health data. In March, the report was the focus of a high level policy dialogue held in March at the Aspen Institute.