Both gender differences and gender inequalities can give rise to inequities between men and women in health status and access to health care. For example:

  • A woman cannot receive needed health care because norms in her community prevent her from travelling alone to a clinic.
  • A teenage boy dies in an accident because of trying to live up to his peers’ expectations that young men should be "bold" risk-takers.
  • A married woman contracts HIV because societal standards encourage her husband’s promiscuity while simultaneously preventing her from insisting on condom use.
  • A country's lung cancer mortality rate for men far outstrips the corresponding rate for women because smoking is considered an attractive marker of masculinity, while it is frowned upon in women.

In each of these cases, gender norms and values, and resulting behaviours, are negatively affecting health. In fact, the gender picture in a given time and place can be one of the major obstacles - sometimes the single most important obstacle - standing between men and women and the achievement of well-being. WHO

For those who identify with the gender assigned to them on their birth certificate this is now formally defined as 'Cisgender'. 'i' newspaper, Thursday 25th June

In addition, a person can experience discomfort or distress because of a mismatch between their biological sex and gender identity. This is known as gender dysphoria. For example, some people may have the anatomy of a man, but identify themselves as a woman, while others may not feel they are definitively either male or female. Further information on gender dysphoria is available on NHS Direct Wales.

Read more


 Gender equality and health

To view more videos on this topic, visit the Sound and Vision page

Men are almost five times more likely to commit suicide than women, in all countries of the European Region while deliberate self-harm is more frequent among women.

Want to contribute to this section?

Send us your submission and information to add to the network


RT : Listen to our latest podcast on supporting and engaging with EU staff, and why from has continu…


RT : Come and kick-start PAPYRUS in Wales! We are recruiting for the Head of PAPYRUS in Wales, to develop a base and a prog…


RT : Our research shows that it’s the overall pattern of eating, drinking and exercising across a lifetime that increases or decrea…