Why incorporate the gender perspective in health?

Incorporating the gender perspective in health means understand that there are not only biological differences, but also those that arise from social and cultural factors. These factors that operate, but are omitted in the diagnosis and care, cause gender inequalities.

Some notable data from the Ministry of Health through its 2006 Health and Gender report can serve as triggers to understand the importance of the gender perspective in health.

The study was carried out with a population between 45 and 65 years old and the following was observed:

  • Women suffer more chronic diseases That men.
  • Men have more serious pathologies and a higher mortality rate.
  • Women live an average of 6.6 years longer than men.
  • Somatic symptoms without organic cause are less frequent in men, as are depressive states and anxiety.
  • They ingest more psychotropic drugs than men and they represent 75% of the total consumers of sleeping pills or tranquilizers.

What is the gender perspective?

To understand what the gender perspective is about, it is important to understand what gender refers to and differentiate it from sex. Let's start with the latter, which is used to designate the biological, anatomical and physiological differences between men and women.

For its part, gender accounts for a system of social, symbolic and psychic relations that unfavorably values ​​women and everything considered feminine in relation to men.

This dynamic concept, under review and sensitive to the historical context, shows that there are socially and culturally constructed differences that go beyond biology and are the origin of inequality in access or care to health.

Gender appears as an organizing and configuring element of practices, norms, values ​​and behaviors. So, incorporating a gender approach supposes start by recognizing and caring for such differences.

Women suffer from more chronic diseases than men, according to prevalence studies.

It may interest you: How smoking affects women

What is the importance of the gender perspective?

Incorporate the gender perspective allows to adapt the performance of professionals to the person in front of them, understanding that biological is not the only factor that influences health.

In fact, not taking it into account runs the risk of committing gender biases in care and, therefore, not providing the treatment that the person needs. So the effectiveness of interventions also depends on this comprehensive approach.

Among the most frequent biases we find the following:

  • Androcentrism: the human is equated with the masculine, making the different experiences that exist invisible and considering those of men as universal.
  • Gender insensitivity: cases in which the influence of sex and gender is not considered, in contexts that are significant due to the differential effects they produce on health.
  • Double standards: it occurs in those cases in which gender is considered, but with a double bar or based on different criteria. The best known is usually the hysteria of women, while talking about passion in the case of men.

Discover: How to identify a myocardial infarction in women

Why incorporate the gender perspective in health?

The gender perspective aims to overcome the analysis focused on sex to recognize the different health experiences that men, women and other identities have, based on their gender and at the intersection with other factors, such as social class, ethnicity, age.

The incorporation of the gender perspective in health allows, among other things, to understand how stereotypes and gender roles influence people's quality of life. This explains, for example, that women live longer, but have a worse quality of life.

Make visible the different characteristics of the disease in each sex

Due to its biological characteristics, women can suffer from breast cancer or ovarian pathology. In turn, morbidity due to different biological vulnerability implies distinguishing that men and women have different sensitivities to the same factors.

Women are more vulnerable to environmental chemical factors, due to differences in the absorption and metabolism of their organisms. Thus, although both sexes are exposed to the same conditions, women will be more biologically vulnerable.

Recognize the influence of gender roles and identities

The ideals or mandates to include based on what society prescribes are factors that condition our quality of life. For example, in eating disorders in women, trying to conform to a perfect body ideal has high costs for your health.

In the case of men, gender roles explain their risky behaviors, such as driving at a higher speed or having a high consumption of alcohol. We see how access and control of resources and differential socialization impact care habits.

Eating disorders are a clear example of the influence of gender on quality of life.

Health is not a life goal, but a daily resource

With this central idea of ​​the World Health Organization (WHO), we must bear in mind that health is not a distant objective, to be specified in the long term, but rather it is a right, understood as a resource that we must have daily. .

In this point, health personnel are key to achieving thisTherefore, it is necessary to change to new ways of researching and doing science, as well as modifying the ways of treating people who attend the consultation.

Society must activate a change, with universal rights and access to all people. Equality education has a very important role to play, along with mainstreaming the gender perspective in laws and public policies.