Gendered Health Pathways

A study of the role that sex and gender play in shaping health pathways, from risk exposure to health outcomes, how policy-makers respond to that evidence, and factors that can influence gender-responsive policy-responses.

Image: Championship, Mikhail Kapychka. Belarus, 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the immense value of sex-disaggregated data and understanding how sex and gender shape health outcomes. The COVID-19 data tracker, established by GH5050 and run in collaboration with ICRW and APHRC showed that, globally, men are less likely than women to access COVID-19 testing but more likely than women to be hospitalised, admitted to ICU and die from COVID-19 (Hawkes 2022, Hawkes 2021, Global Health 50/50).

Sex and gender differences were particularly amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic but differences in health outcomes among men and women, and people with other gender identities such as non-binary or transgender, have long been observed in health reports and health survey data. Gender analysis of sex-disaggregated data can identify potential causes or hypotheses for why differences in health conditions exist. Ideally, this should be supported through gender-responsive policy agenda-setting, formulation and implementation that contributes to health equity through interventions and programmes that are effective in transforming harmful gender norms and reducing gender inequities.

However, while evidence is long-standing, reviews of policy and programme responses tend to highlight a lack of consideration of gender as a driver of health (exposures, care-seeking, care pathways) across most health conditions and national settings. Across many health conditions there has been inconsistent sex-disaggregated data collection, a lack of gender analysis, and gender-blind or gender-unaware policy and programmatic responses.

The Gendered Health Pathways Project aims to seize and expand on recent learnings from COVID-19 to understand gender differences and increase gender-responsiveness in policy and practice across a range of health conditions. The project examines both the role that sex and gender play in determining health pathways, and how policy-makers respond to that evidence. The research seeks to strengthen gender-responsive health data, policies and programmes by:

  1. producing and disseminating accessible and engaging evidence of the impacts of sex and gender on health outcomes along the disease cascade across a number of disease areas;
  2. highlighting successful approaches to formulating health policy responses that effectively address gender and equity, by examining policy processes in a range of health areas and contexts.

The research is being conducted at the global and national levels, working in India and Kenya at the national level. This work builds on our ongoing work on COVID-19, and our partnerships with the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC).

The findings of this research will be published in 2023.

Expand to read more about our research partners

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

The International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) is a global research institute with offices located in Washington, D.C.; New Delhi, India; Nairobi, Kenya; and Kampala, Uganda. Established in 1976 and anchored in the principle of human dignity, ICRW advances gender equity, social inclusion and shared prosperity worldwide. Our researchers dig into the ways gender shapes societies and the ways people’s lives are diminished by power imbalances. We use evidence to inform our advocacy, advisory services and program design. Our evidence sheds light on some of the most intractable challenges facing us and informs solutions that work.

The African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

The African Population and Health Research Center is the continent’s premier research institution and think tank, exploring questions of population health and wellbeing. Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, with a newly opened satellite office in Dakar, Senegal, the Center seeks to drive change with evidence led by a growing cadre of research leaders from across sub-Saharan Africa. Our teams orient their research agendas according to global and continental development priorities, driven by the belief that Africa and African-generated evidence must be at the forefront of decisions supporting improved growth and development.

Last updated 31 January 2023.