Gender, equity and human rights

Gender equality must be at the core of "Health for All"

WHO/Y. Shimizu

8 MARCH 2018 – Today, for International Women's Day, we imagine a world where every woman and girl has access to quality and affordable health care, a world in which women and girls can freely exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights, and one where all women and girls are treated and respected as equals. At WHO, we’re speaking up for women and girls’ right to health.
WHO has been named a "high performing" global health organization in advancing gender equality.

Stay alert and help the vulnerable as cold grips Europe

A young child throwing snowball in Scotland

1 MARCH 2018 – A wave of cold weather hitting Europe this week poses health risks, particularly to people in vulnerable situations. Temperatures are expected to plunge below average in western European Russia, central Europe, the Balkans and the Baltic States.

Research and development: Inequalities found by WHO observatory

A woman and a man are talking in front of a board pinned with diagrams, charts and informative papers.

5 FEBRUARY 2018 – In Singapore there are an estimated 1140 health research workers per million inhabitants, compared to just 0.2 in Zimbabwe. This is just one of the striking gaps and inequalities in investment identified by WHO’s newly-established Global Observatory on Health Research and Development.

Addressing health inequalities in Indonesia

Ms Widyaningsih (Wida), Midwive and Field coordinator for Hibiscus examines a child in Indonesia.
Puskesmas Senen

19 DECEMBER 2017 – WHO has published its first ever joint report with a Member State presenting a comprehensive assessment of health inequalities within a country. Age, sex, economic status, education and where a person lives can all affect peoples’ state of health and access to health services. The report identifies priority areas for action to ensure that, when it comes to essential health, no one is left behind.

Door-to-door diagnosis—part of Mongolia’s push towards universal health coverage

Consultation in Mongolia

14 DECEMBER 2017 – In parts of Mongolia, many people only go to the doctor when they have an urgent need, such as for childbirth, injury or serious illness, as going to hospital can be costly and time-consuming. A WHO-supported initiative has been successful in detecting illnesses among Mongolia’s remote and disadvantaged populations to ensure people receive the care they need. “Guided by the principle of leaving no one behind, WHO is supporting Mongolia’s efforts to advance towards universal health coverage by setting a further goal to reach people with quality services where and when they need them,” says Dr Sergey Diorditsa, the acting WHO Representative in Mongolia.

Health is a fundamental human right

The right to health means ending discrimination in all healthcare settings

10 DECEMBER 2017 – “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”. Almost 70 years after these words were adopted in WHO's constitution, they are more powerful and relevant than ever. Since day one, the right to health has been central to WHO’s identity and mandate.

Human Rights approach eyed as way to cut maternal deaths in Americas region

Pregnant woman

8 DECEMBER 2017 - An approach based on human rights using international legal instruments can help in the effort to reduce maternal mortality in the Americas, according to experts speaking today at a Pan American Health Organization symposium. “By using the provisions recognized in international human rights instruments, it is possible to include mandatory commitments to enable women to survive pregnancy and childbirth as part of their sexual and reproductive health rights,” said Carissa F. Etienne, director of PAHO.

Highlighting women’s contributions to sustainable development through work in health

1 DECEMBER 2017 – A new publication gives direction and detail to a richer and more holistic understanding of the health workforce through the presentation of new evidence and solutions based on focused analysis. The second chapter of the report lays out women’s contributions to sustainable development through work in health.

“Generation 2.0” of UN-SWAP previewed at WHO Headquarters in Geneva

22 NOVEMBER 2017 – A 4-day workshop was held at WHO Headquarters in Geneva last week to take stock of progress made in the first 5 years of the UN System-wide Action Plan on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN-SWAP 1.0). Dr Veronica Magar, Team Leader, Gender, Equity and Human Rights highlighted WHO's perspective, saying “We need to be empowered to defend our rights, tackle discrimination to address biases… pay gaps, missed opportunities, unpaid work…collectively through social movements that inspire us. We also need to share our stories, collectively.”

fact buffet

GenderTo ensure that different groups of women and men, boys and girls, have equal opportunities to achieve their full health potential.

More on gender

EquityTo enhance fairness in the distribution of health across populations.

More on equity

Human rightsTo produce greater health outcomes through the advancement of the right to health and other health-related human rights.

More on human rights

Facts and features

Photo story (Western Pacific): Advancing health through GER

In this photo story, see how making gender, equity and human rights everyone’s responsibility is reshaping the way health policies and programmes are developed and implemented to benefit women, men, girls and boys across the Western Pacific Region.

Photo story: Snapshots of inequalities

People have vastly different stories to tell about their health depending on a variety of social determinants.

Frequently asked questons on health and sexual diversity

This FAQ defines terms, highlights key issues and underscores the UN’s commitment to gender identity and sexual diversity.

Frequently asked questions on migration

Abridged version of Migration and health: Key issues, published on the Regional Office for Europe website

We appreciate your visit to the Gender, Equity and Human Rights website. Plans are in development to have the site available in WHO's other official languages.

New resources

Innov8 approach for reviewing national health programmes

The Innov8 approach is a resource that supports the operationalization of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) commitment to “leave no one behind”.

Gender, equity and human rights team newsletter

Contact us at: