This policy reflects PAHO's unwavering commitment to the principles of equity, respect for human rights, and the exercise of citizenship, in addition to its determination to actively participate in global efforts to eliminate all forms of gender discrimination. It is also an expression of the institutional resolve to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public health practice in the Americas.

The goal of this policy is to contribute to the achievement of gender equality in health status and health development through research, policies, and programs which give due attention to gender differences in health and its determinants, and actively promote equality between women and men.

PAHO/WHO's Gender Equality Policy in PDF.

Guiding principles

Gender equality in health means that women and men have equal conditions for realizing their full rights and potential to be healthy, contribute to health development, and benefit from the results. Achieving gender equality will require specific measures designed to eliminate gender inequities.

Gender equity means fairness and justice in the distribution of benefits, power, resources, and responsibilities between women and men. The concept recognizes that women and men have different needs, access to, and control over resources, and that these differences should be addressed in a manner that rectifies the imbalance between the sexes. Gender inequity in health refers to those inequalities between women and men in health status, health care, and health work participation, which are unjust, unnecessary, and avoidable. Gender equity strategies are used to eventually attain equality. Equity is the means, equality is the result.

Empowerment is about women and men taking control over their lives: being able to perceive alternatives, make choices, and fulfill those choices. It is both a process and an outcome, and it is collective and individual. Women's empowerment is essential to achieving gender equality. Outsiders cannot empower women, only women can empower themselves. However, institutions can support empowering processes both at the individual and collective levels.

Diversity in the approach means recognizing that women-and men-do not constitute homogeneous groups. Women's and men's diversity with respect to age, socioeconomic status, education, ethnicity and culture, sexual orientation, ability, and geographical location must be taken into account whenever issues of gender and health are addressed.

Gender mainstreaming is "… the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies, or programs, in any area and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women's as well as men's concerns and experiences an integral dimension in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of policies and programs in all political, economic, and social spheres, such that inequality between men and women is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality". A mainstreaming strategy may include affirmative initiatives directed towards either women or men.