Offline: Gender and global health—an inexcusable global failure

Elsevier, The Lancet, Volume 393, Issue 10171, 9–15 February 2019, Page 511.
Richard Horton

WHO has identified “Ten threats to global health in 2019”. Surprisingly—one should say shockingly—gender inequity is not one of them. It is not only WHO that is failing by excluding women and girls from its priority list of dangers. The entire global health community has abdicated its responsibility for achieving gender justice in health. This situation is strange because a vast quantity of evidence linking gender inequity to poor health exists and the mandate is clear, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 5. The global health community has not, but must, make SDG 5 an indispensable part of its work to achieve healthy lives for all. Ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls. Eliminating all harmful practices against women and girls (eg, forced marriage). Recognising and valuing unpaid care and domestic work. Ensuring women's full participation and equal opportunities for leadership in all parts of public life. Ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. Implementing reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources. Enhancing the use of technologies to promote women's empowerment. Finally, adopting policies and laws to promote gender equality. Rarely, if ever, do we hear global health leaders promoting such far-reaching reforms as essential prerequisites for health. We must ask: why not?