Gender health and policies: the state of the art from exposure to solutions


Objective. To synthesize the determinants of gender inequalities through a narrative review that: (i) describes gender related var- iables that can create different levels of health; (ii) describes key points that may assist in policy development and its reorientation towards gender differences; (iii) debates potential approaches in understanding gender issues. Methods. Review of the international literature through online databases (Pubmed), search engines, publications and documents from ?grey literature?. Inclusion criteria: publications from 1997, English language; keywords used: gender based analysis; gender and public policy; women?s health; gender differences; health policy; gender impact assessment. Among the 300 papers retrieved, 55 were selected for relevance. Results. We performed a narrative synthesis of the included literature, regarding: (i) gender differences and their determi-nants; (ii) elements for the changing; (iii) possible approaches; (iv) gender influences the pursuit of health and health care access through specific variables; (v) health policies can modify these variables only by a minimal percentage. These interventions should guarantee equity and allow efficient resources allocation. The gap between political announce- ments and real policy implementation remains unchanged. (vi) Standard approaches to the topic are not feasible due to the scarcity of a specific literature and the numerous cultural differences. Conclusions. Gender analysis of policies suggests they can dif- ferently affect women in comparison to men. However, reforms, strategies and interventions introduced in the last two decades, have achieved a limited success towards better gender equality in health. The main aim is to attack the structural sources of gender inequity in the society.