Blog Post
18 Aug 2022

Mapping of potential case studies on gender integration in government health programs across Africa, South Asia and South East Asia

5 minutes
What You'll Learn
  • An open call, desk review, and follow-up with key stakeholders elicited potential case studies of successful gender integration in government health programs in three regions; Africa, South Asia and South East Asia
  • Across the three regions, 51 potential case-studies were identified, with 18 from Africa, 19 from South-East Asia and 14 from South Asia
  • Summary tables providing detailed descriptions of these potential case studies can be found for Africa, South-East Asia, and South Asia
  • An interactive dashboard mapping potential case studies in countries across the focus regions can be accessed here
About the project
Why is this important?

Gender integration in health programs is essential to address inequalities in access to services, ensure the provision of quality care, transform harmful gender norms, and challenge power dynamics. Many successful examples of gender integration in health exist, but these are largely by civil society organisations. To achieve scale and further advance gender equality, they need to be implemented and owned by governments.

In order to develop policy lessons on how to successfully scale and sustain gender considerations into government programs, the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health is working with two leading regional public health institutes namely;



How did we do this? 

An open call was launched to crowdsource examples of successful gender integration in government health programmes in three regions: Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia. In addition to the open call, direct contact with key informants provided more leads, as did desk reviews. The eligibility criteria for inclusion were as follows;

RegionsHealth programs had to be implemented in Africa or South Asia or Southeast Asia.
Government involvementHealth programs had to Involve at least one government body either at the national or subnational level, including Ministries of Health or other Ministries, in programme design, implementation, or monitoring & evaluation.
Health focusHealth programmes can include initiatives implemented by Ministries of Health, as well as other Ministries, that contribute to improved health outcomes, which relate to and are not limited to community mobilisation, water and sanitation, nutrition, regulation of food, tobacco and alcohol, as well as health service delivery, health information systems, access to essential medicines, health workforce, health financing, leadership and governance.
Gender focusHealth programs had to address the needs and/or situations of particular gender groups (women, men, or non-binary people) and power inequalities or harmful gender norms (e.g., transforming gender norms to abandon and end female genital mutilation, transforming power relations within the health workforce).
DurationHealth programs had to have been active for at least 3 years
What did we find?

Across the three regions, 51 potential case studies were identified, with 18 from Africa, 19 from South-East Asia and 14 from South Asia. The potential case studies are located in more than 26 countries across the three regions, with two being multi-country programs on female genital mutilation (FGM) and menstrual hygiene, respectively.

Some of the themes found are:

  • Gender-Based Violence (GBV) (for example, links with mental health, providers’ training, health system response through hospital-based clinics and outreach programmes, empowering survivors of violence),
  • Male involvement (in antenatal care, ‘husbands’ school to support women’s sexual and reproductive health, positive fatherhood, boys’ and men’s attitudes to GBV through life skills programme, and in challenging hegemonic masculinities),
  • Reforms to health services during COVID (mental health support for returned migrants and women migrants, vaccines for indigenous people and homeless women, reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health, gender-responsive HIV services),
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene (mainly menstrual health and hygiene, gender-separated toilets, women’s participation in decision-making around water and sanitation),
  • HIV services (for drugs users, sex workers, men who have sex with men, and adolescent girls),
  • LGBTQI issues (like a clinic for trans persons, national policy for LGBTQI persons within Universal Health Care),
  • Cross-cutting health systems issues (like mainstreaming of gender data, gender-responsive planning and budgeting, community health workers, gender in medical education).
  • Gender-responsive vertical programmes (gender-sensitive tuberculosis care, cervical cancer screening, and gender-equitable malaria services).

Summary tables providing further information on these potential case studies are listed here for Africa, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. Additionally, an interactive dashboard that maps potential case studies in countries across the focus regions can be accessed here.

Many submissions were by colleagues working in government ministries and those from UN agencies and technical implementing partners, which were usually civil society organisations. The latter was particularly prominent in the African region. Some examples were already evaluated as works in progress regarding gender integration in health, while others seemed more promising. Program duration also varied across the case study examples and regions, with many programs operating for more than three years.

While the documentation available across all these potential case studies is highly variable, we are excited to see many suggested examples of gender being integrated into government programs to advance gender equality and ensure more equitable health outcomes. Further exploration and dialogue are needed to better understand these potential case studies in all their diversity across health conditions, health systems and country contexts, and what they tell us about integrating gender into government health programs. Stay tuned!

For further details on this project, please contact us.

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