Politics, simply understood as who gets what, when, and how, is central to health policy and health equity outcomes. The material, ideational, and institutional interests and power of stakeholders determine whose health is given importance and who influences those decisions. Gender- the roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that are expected, allowed, and valued in a woman or man in any given context- in turn impacts the influence and interests of those stakeholders.
Gender is embedded in the politics of health systems through decisions about financing, priority-setting that dictates what conditions, diseases and illness burdens are focused on, service delivery, right through to the quality of care delivered.
Health (and other) systems are gendered in terms of who receives quality care, who is providing the care, and in terms of the focus of health research. In turn, the structure of health systems matters for gender equality, gender equity, and health equity. For example, globally, it is estimated that over 70 percent of the health workforce is female, but 70 percent of the leadership (and 80 percent of board chairs) is male.
These issues of gender equity and gender equality are crucial to understanding the political nature of how global health institutions have responded to observed differences in the health and well-being of people of all genders.