Report
06 Dec 2021
806 views

What Works in Gender and Health in the United Nations: Lessons Learned from Cases of Successful Gender Mainstreaming across Five UN Agencies

Johanna Riha, TK Sundari Ravindran, George A Atiim, Michelle Remme, an...+1 more
Johanna Riha, TK Sundari Ravindran, George A Atiim, Michelle Remme, and Renu Khanna
Global
25 mins
38 downloads
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What you'll learn
Recommendations for multilateral and bilateral organisations to meet the challenges and opportunities of advancing gender equality in health
  • Lessons learned from 14 successful cases across five UN agencies working in global health outlining what has worked, where, for whom, why and how, to promote gender equality in health, institutionally and programmatically
  • Key elements critical to leveraging opportunities and creating substantial and sustainable gains in gender equality within health programmes and institutional structures
  • How COVID19 may be used as an opportunity to do things differently, with a heightened urgency to learn from past experiences and build on successes
  • Download the executive summary
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About this report

The COVID-19 pandemic, a looming economic crisis, political fragility, and climate change, are eroding progress on hard-won but fragile gains in improving health and addressing gender inequalities. The silver lining of the pandemic is the opportunity it presents to do things differently, with a heightened urgency to learn from past experiences and build on successes. The United Nations (UN) and its agencies are strategically well-placed to provide direction and lead the agenda of gender equality in health.

This report, by Johanna Riha, TK Sundari Ravindran, George A Atiim, Michelle Remme, and Renu Khanna, presents findings from a collaborative practice-based project which analysed what has worked, where, for whom, why and how, to promote gender equality in health. It is based on 14 successful cases across five UN agencies working institutionally and programmatically in global health. The report presents an in-depth analysis of the contextual factors that enabled success, the triggers that set off change, and the factors that sustained the positive shifts over time.

Meeting the challenge and opportunity of advancing gender equality in health programmes and institutional structures at this critical point in time requires collective action, building on existing evidence and knowledge. This report makes an important contribution in this regard. The next step is to collectively work towards integrating this evidence into existing health programmes and organisational structures with the ultimate dual goals of improving health and ensuring gender equality.

 

Key recommendations
1
Invest
Invest
in high-quality, strategically positioned gender experts with decision-making power at headquarters, as well as regional and country offices. These positions should be core funded to ensure their sustainability.
2
Combine
Combine
well-crafted organisational mandates with robust accountability mechanisms that publicly track and report outcomes, and support gender equity goals both institutionally and programmatically, and move funding and spending beyond marker allocations.
3
Identify and seize
Identify and seize
expected and unexpected changes in contextual factors, such as exceptionally committed senior leadership, savvy gender experts and leaders, strong donor interest, disruption due to crises, positive shifts in strategic advantage, and organisational restructuring, which present opportunities to create more gender-responsive programmes, put gender and health issues on the global agenda, and strengthen institutional practices that prioritise gender equality in health and other programming.

To translate leadership commitments into concrete action, institutions required sufficient infrastructure to be able to advance the gender equality agenda.

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