Gender equality is essential to achieving health and well-being for all, accelerate progress towards the health-related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets and ensuring that no one is left behind. Gender refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls, and boys that are socially constructed. Gender affects health and wellbeing, influencing both the behaviours of individuals (what risks they take with their health, what risks they face and whether or not they seek health care) and how the health system responds to their needs when they are sick or need care and support.
Gender equality in health means that all people have the right to realise their full potential to lead healthy lives and to contribute to and benefit from the results of development. In addressing gender, it is important to understand the health outcomes not just for women and girls but also men and boys, in all their diversity. For instance, although available evidence suggests that in the event of equal exposure, adult men and women are equally vulnerable to malaria infection, pregnant women are at greater risk of developing severe malaria in most endemic areas because of their decreased immunity. Pregnant adolescents are at greater risk of severe malaria than women above the age of 19 years. Women and girls account for 49 per cent of new HIV infections worldwide and 63 per cent of new infections in sub-Saharan Africa. AIDS remains one of the leading causes of death for women aged 15–49 years globally. Meanwhile, men are less likely to access HIV treatment and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses. Gender-based violence and violence against key populations constitute a major vulnerability to HIV infection and they are a major barrier to HIV and other health services. In 2021, men and boys accounted for almost 56 per cent of tuberculosis (TB) cases. Men are less likely to have their TB detected and reported than women, and men account for 54 per cent of TB deaths among HIV-negative people.
The Global Fund Strategy 2023 – 2028 commits the Global Fund to:
The 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS: Ending inequalities and getting on track to end AIDS by 2030 and the Global AIDS Strategy 2021 – 2026 commit stakeholders to prioritizing action related to:
The 2018 UN Political Declaration on the fight against Tuberculosis includes a commitment to taking concrete action to “end TB stigma and all forms of discrimination, and developing integrated, people-centred, community-based and gender-responsive health services”.
In South Sudan, in its role as Principal Recipient of Global Fund to Fight AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) grants, UNDP supports a program to train health care workers to respond to gender-based violence (GBV) and refer survivors to a range of appropriate services. The provision of co-located psycho-social and legal referral services for women are a great example of the integrated service provision necessary to address GBV and HIV. In addition, the program supports several behavioural change communication initiatives aimed at preventing GBV and supporting the use of GBV services, using the popular medium of radio. These messages are translated into multiple languages, including those spoken by internally displaced populations, and are aimed at removing the stigma and gender inequality that drives the HIV epidemic and often prevents survivors of GBV from accessing key HIV-related prevention services.
Technical brief: Tuberculosis, Gender and Human Rights
The Global Fund
Making the Law work for woman and girls in the context of HIV
United Nations Development Programme
Gender Equality and HIV/AIDS