Gender Equity through Health Promotion
The World Health Organization defines health promotion as “the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health.” To achieve this, health promotion strategies seek to positively influence health through a range of individual, community-based and population interventions. Health promotion is not merely about promoting healthy “lifestyle choices”, but is also about changing social conditions to create healthy communities, healthy public policy, and increase well-being.
While many of the resources on this website use examples from women’s health, the principles of gender transformation apply equally to men’s health concerns and are based on an understanding of how gender inequity can also negatively affects boys and men. Gender transformative health promotion is interested in improving outcomes for all: women, men, girls and boys.
Evidence increasingly demonstrates that health care interventions—including health promotion—are more effective if they are designed with gender in mind.
The Research Team
The resources on this website were developed by an interdisciplinary research team funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Institute of Gender and Health (2011-2015).
The team drew together expertise in clinical medicine, health policy, human kinetics, women’s studies, anthropology, epidemiology, nursing, and sociology, and was made up of researchers, trainees, and staff based primarily at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, located at BC Women’s Hospital & Health Centre, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority of BC.
Framework for Gender Transformative Health Promotion
The primary goal of the team was to develop approaches to reduce gender and health inequities through the advancement of effective health promotion for women. One of the key outcomes was a Framework for Gender-transformative Health Promotion that was developed by over 150 health promotion researchers, practitioners and policy makers through a multi-year stakeholder consultation process that included an iterative process of literature reviews, case studies and dialogue. The Framework is a conceptual tool designed to illustrate how health promotion can contribute to gender transformation to enhance both health and gender equity.
Priority Research Areas
Over the course of the project, the team identified priority research areas to inform the development of the Framework for Health Promotion for Women and to pursue as sites for exploring its application in practice. Each of the areas of research are important health topics with significant health effects for women and girls.
- Cardiovascular Disease and Women
- Women and Chronic Conditions Self-Management
- Housing for Women Leaving Violent Relationships
- Women, Physical Activity and Health
- Girls, Women and Substance Use
These research areas served as key inputs for the framework and were used as case studies. The case studies provided the team with the opportunity to look in more depth at specific health promotion interventions, allowing them to explore the effectiveness of current health promotion strategies. Many of the key findings are included in the book Making It Better: Gender Transformative Health Promotion published by Canadian Scholars’ Press in 2014.
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