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Promoting Gender Equality in the Health Workforce

Although the majority of health workers in developing countries are female, gender discrimination presents significant barriers to achieving gender equality within the health workforce. When gender inequalities and discrimination operate in the workforce they may impede entry into health occupations and contribute to attrition, absences from work, lower productivity, poor health, and low morale of health workers.

Addressing gender-related discrimination and inequality in the health workforce is essential to tackling the global shortage and maldistribution of health workers and to improving access to quality services. Common forms of gender discrimination include:

  • Discrimination based on marital and pregnancy status and family responsibilities
  • Occupational and task segregation
  • Wage discrimination
  • Gender stereotyping
  • Sexual harassment and assault.

IntraHealth works to facilitate national governments’ use of gender-related information to guide health workforce decisions that promote gender equality. Focus areas include:

  • Strengthening health workforce policy and planning to promote gender equality
  • Increasing gender integration in education, training, and work
  • Creating more supportive, fairer, and safer work environments.

Related resources

Gender equality in human resources for health: What does this mean and what can we do?
Global Health Initiative supplemental guidance on women, girls, and gender equality principle

Workplace violence and gender discrimination in Rwanda’s health workforce: Increasing safety and gender equality

Occupational segregation, gender essentialism and male primacy as major barriers to equity in HIV care giving: Findings from Lesotho

Protecting health workers’ rights
Guarding health workers and facilities in conflict
Ensuring safe workplaces

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