The UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health

Gender and Global Health Reading List

Welcome to the Gender and Health resources page. Here you can find information and some suggested resources on the role of gender in health outcomes and the importance of gendered approaches to global health. This hub can be used by both beginners and researchers in the field. This hub is an iterative project; please help us build a more comprehensive resources page by identifying gaps, letting us know which themes are missing and sharing literature and resources you find useful via our suggestions form here.

The hub has three sections:

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If you would like to see a resource added to this page, please fill out our suggestions form here. You can also check out our brand new weekly #CGGH book club on Instagram and join the discussions.

Why gender and global health?

As gendered human beings, our health behaviours, specific health risks, and the way that we engage with and are treated by healthcare systems is affected by our gender. This intersects with other factors such as race, class, and sexuality, to determine our susceptibility to different health problems and access to treatment. These interactions are summarised in Figure 1 below.

Because of this, we have put together a reading list and resources hub exploring the different ways that gender interacts with, and influences, health outcomes. It is through recognising the contribution that gender makes to health, and developing tailored public health interventions, that we have the best chance of improving health outcomes and achieving health equity for all. 

 Figure 1: Conceptual framework illustrating the relationship between gender and health and well-being. Hawkes, S., & Buse, K. The Politics of Gender and Global Health. In The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics. : Oxford University Press.

Figure 1: Conceptual framework illustrating the relationship between gender and health and well-being. Hawkes, S., & Buse, K. The Politics of Gender and Global Health. In The Oxford Handbook of Global Health Politics. : Oxford University Press.

What does gender have to do with health? 

Gender refers to something distinct from biological sex. It is not equivalent to women and girls, or men and boys, but encompasses people of all genders. It is socially constructed and influenced by laws, politics, policies, communities, families and individuals. It shapes how we behave, act and feel, the attitudes and expectations we have of ourselves and of others. Gender norms determine our positions and roles in society.

Despite decades of research demonstrating the link between gender and health outcomes, global health players continue to do too little to address the very real impact of gender and its accompanying issues, such as power and politics, norms, access, vulnerability and violence, on people’s health.

Past discussions of gender and health have often been equated to discussions of reproductive rights and biological differences. While evidently incredibly important, the implications of gender are wider than that: for reasons beyond sex, a baby girl born in 2017 can expect to live 4 years more than a baby boy born on the same day, while in some countries that life expectancy gap is 11.7 years or more. Men’s shorter life expectancies are driven, in part, by their higher rates of consumption of tobacco and alcohol, their likelihood of death from violence (including in peacetime), road injuries, and suicide, all of which occur at much higher rates than among women.

Conversely, girls and women might live longer, but they suffer longer with chronic diseases. Pregnancy complications and unsafe abortions remain a significant cause of death in many settings, with one third of girls married before they are 18. Further, married women in 27 countries still require their husband’s consent before they can access contraceptives.

Using an intersectional lens

Gender never acts alone - therefore, to fully understand this link, an analysis of gender and health must encompass the multitude of factors which interact with gender to produce health outcomes. An intersectional approach to health acknowledges that while both are women, the life and health outcomes of a lesbian South African woman in Soweto is very different from that of a white American NGO CEO. While gender is an important determinant of health in its own right, it also interacts with other social, economic and commercial determinants such as race, poverty, education, and nutrition (see Figure 1).

Gender also impacts access to health services and the pathways of care within them. For example, women suffer more frequently and for longer with chronic pain than men, partly because their pain is disbelieved by healthcare providers. Finally, gendered behaviours and expectations shape exposure to unhealthy products, health protection behaviours and care seeking patterns. For example, the belief in the stoic man means that men worldwide are less likely to access health services for ailments. These complicated interactions require attention paid to the specific context of each case in order to fully understand what gender means and how, worldwide, it influences health.

Why has gender remained off the global health agenda for so long? 

With stark gender inequalities within global health organisations themselves, perhaps it is unsurprising that policy has often been insensitive to this truth. The health workforce is, in some countries, up to 75% female - but men are 50% more likely to reach senior management, and gender parity in senior management is only achieved by 25% of 198 of the most active organisations in global health. Change appears to be coming, but it's difficult to tell how many organisations are going beyond words on paper to do the hard work needed to achieve gender equal leadership and develop programmes that both understand and address the crucial role gender plays in determining health outcomes. I

In the Gender Centre, our diverse team think about this complicated intersection through many lenses. Our studies encompass papers ranging from the definition of women’s empowerment, the impact of sexual torture on Afghan refugee women and masculinities and homicide in Mexico to understanding how evidence on gender and health is used in policy making . To take a look at our publications, please check out the research and dissemination page http://www.ighgc.org/research. To find out more about gender and health, why not take a look at our introductory reading list below.

Defining gender

Gender refers to the socially constructed norms that impose and determine roles, relationships and positional power for all people across their lifetime. Gender interacts with sex, the biological and physical characteristics that define women, men and those with intersex identities.

Gender equality in health means that all people have the right to realise their full potential to lead healthy lives, contribute to health development, and benefit from the results of this development.

Gender equity in health means fairness in addressing the different health needs of people according to their gender. Inequitable health outcomes based on gender are both avoidable and unacceptable. A concept of fairness recognises that there are differences between the sexes and that resources must be allocated differentially to address unfair disparities. 

For more definitions we suggest this glossary

This resource list, while diverse, is far from comprehensive. It instead aims to provide an introduction to many core concepts that inform our research. If there are any readings that you think we missed, or if you would like to request more readings on any topic, please fill in the form included on this page.

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These texts are recommended for beginners to gender and global health, as well as anyone looking for an introduction to the origins and current work on the topic.

Core Readings:

  • Connell, R. (2012). Gender, health and theory: Conceptualizing the issue, in local and world perspective. Social Science and Medicine, 74(11), pp. 1675-1683. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.006
  • Hawkes, S. & Buse, K. (2013). Gender and global health: evidence, policy and inconvenient truths. The Lancet, 381(9879), pp. 1783-1787. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60253-6
  • Springer, K.W., Hankivsky, O., Bates, L.M. (2012).Gender and health: relational, intersectional and biosocial approaches. Social Science and Medicine, 74(11), pp. 1661-1666. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.03.001
  • Springer, K.W., Stellman, J.M. & Jordan-Young, R.M. (2012). Beyond a catalogue of differences: A theoretical frame and good practice guidelines for researching sex/gender in human health. Social Science and Medicine, 74(11), pp. 1817-1824. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.05.033

Further Readings:

  • Browner, C.H., Sargent, C.F. (2011). Reproduction, Globalization, and the State: New Theoretical and Ethnographic Perspectives. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
  • Gates, M. (2019). A new normal: addressing gender to improve health. The Lancet, 393(10189), pp. 2373-2374. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30989-4
  • Ginsburg, F.D. & Reiter, R.R. (1995). Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction. Berkeley, California: University of California Press.
  • Heise, L. et al. (2019). Gender inequality and restrictive gender norms: framing the challenges to health. The Lancet, 393(10189), pp. 2440-2454. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30652-X
  • Horton, R. (2019). Offline: Gender and global health - an inexcusable global failure. The Lancet, 393(10171), p. 511. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30311-3
  • Pollack Petchesky, R. (2003). Global Prescriptions: Gendering Health and Human Rights. London: Zed Books Ltd.
  • Sargent, C.F. & Brettell, C. (1996). Gender and Health: An International Perspective. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Sen, G., George, A. & Östlin, P. (Eds) (2002). Engendering International Health: The Challenge of Equity. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Shannon, G. et al. (2019). Gender equality in science, medicine and global health: where are we at and why does it matter? The Lancet, 393(10171), pp. 560-569. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)33135-0
  • Weber, A.M. et al. (2019). Gender norms and health: insights from global survey data. The Lancet, 393(10189), pp. 2455-2468. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(19)30765-2

Understanding gender as performed, culturally specific, and as a mechanism of power is key for the current state of development work. Gender has been addressed differently throughout the history of development and it is only within the last 15 years that the idea of “mainstreaming” gender analysis into all development has become standard practise.

Core Readings:

  • Connell, R.W. (1987). Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Cornwall, A. (2003). Whose Voices? Whose Choices? Reflections on Gender and Participatory Development. World Development, 31(8), pp. 1325-1342. DOI: 10.1016/S0305-750X(03)00086-X
  • Cornwall, A. & Rivas, A.M. (2015). From ‘gender equality and ‘women’s empowerment’ to global justice: reclaiming a transformative agenda for gender and development. Third World Quarterly, 36(2), pp. 396-415, DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2015.1013341
  • Madhok, S. (2013). Rethinking Agency: Developmentalism, Gender and Rights.Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Wilson, K. (2015). Towards a Radical Re-appropriation: Gender, Development and Neoliberal Feminism. Development and Change, 46(4), pp. 803-832. DOI: 10.1111/dech.12176

Further Readings:

  • Acker, J. (1990). Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations. Gender and Society, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Jun., 1990), pp. 139-158. DOI: 10.1177/089124390004002002
  • Chant, S. (1997). Women-Headed Households: Diversity and Dynamics in the Developing World. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press Ltd.
  • Connell, R.W. (2005). Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Jackson, C. & Pearson, R. (1998). Feminist Visions of Development: Gender, Analysis and Policy. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Kabeer, N. (1994). ‘Connecting, Extending, Reversing: Development from a Gender Perspective’. In Reversed Realities: Gender Hierarchies in Development Thought. London: Verso, pp. 69-94.
  • Lukes, S. (2005). ‘Power, Freedom and Reason’ and ‘Three-Dimensional Power’. In Power: A radical view. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 60-151.
  • Mies, M. (1986;1998;2014). Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour. London: Zed Books Ltd.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2000). Women and Human Development: the Capabilities Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1-33.
  • Sen, A. (1999). ‘Women’s Agency and Social Change’. In Development as Freedom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 189-203.
  • Walby, S. (1990) ‘Introduction’ and ‘From Private to Public Patriarchy’. In Theorising Patriarchy. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd., pp. 1-24, 173-202.

How should gender be conceptualised, addressed and mainstreamed in development policy? What role does the language of development ‘jargon’ play in driving how gender is addressed in policy? How can we ensure development programmes are gender-sensitive, if not gender-transformative? And should gendered approaches in development focus on women, men or both?

Core Readings:

Further Readings:

Gender refers to the socially constructed norms that impose and determine roles, relationships and positional power for all people across their lifetime. Theorists have long studied gender as a social construct and social structure, seeking to understand how it is produced, reproduced and performed in different societies across the world, and how hegemonic masculinity, patriarchal societies and inequalities based on gender can be challenged and transformed. 

Core Readings:

  • Butler, J. (2007). Gender Trouble. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Davis, D. & Craven, C. (2016). Feminist Ethnography: Thinking Through Methodologies, Challenges and Possibilities. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • Ridgeway, C.L. & Correll, S.J. (2004). Unpacking the Gender System: A Theoretical Perspective on Gender Beliefs and Social Relations. Gender and Society, 18(4), pp. 510-531. DOI: 10.1177/0891243204265269
  • Risman, B.J. (2004). Gender as a Social Structure: Theory Wrestling With Activism. Gender and Society, 18(4), pp. 429-450. DOI: 10.1177/0891243204265349

Further Readings:

  • Butler, J. (2004). Undoing Gender. Abingdon, Routledge.
  • Butler, J. (2010). Performance Agency. Journal of Cultural Economy, 3(2), pp. 147-161. DOI: 10.1080/17530350.2010.494117
  • Connell, R.W. (1987). Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
  • Connell, R.W. (1993). The big picture: Masculinities in recent world history. Theory and Society, 22(5), pp. 597-623. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/657986
  • Connell, R.W. & Messerschmidt, J.W. (2005). Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the concept. Gender and Society, 19(6), pp. 829-859. DOI: 10.1177/0891243205278639
  • Donaldson, M. (1993). What is hegemonic masculinity? Theory and Society, 22(5), 643-657. DOI: 10.1007/BF00993540
  • Foucault, M. (1978). The History of Sexuality - Volume I: An Introduction. New York: Random House
  • Ridgeway, C.L. (2009). Framed Before We Know It: How Gender Shapes Social Relations.  Gender and Society, 23(2), pp. 145-160. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20676769
  • Risman, B.J. & Davis, G. (2013). From sex roles to gender structure. Current Sociology, 61(5-6), pp.733-755. DOI: 10.1177/0011392113479315
  • West, C. & Zimmerman, D.H. (1987). Doing Gender. Gender and Society 1(2), 125-151. DOI: 0.1177/0891243287001002002

For additional resources on this topic, we recommend: http://signsjournal.org/currents-identity-politics/poststructuralist-queer/

Kimberlé Crenshaw’s influential work on understanding how identities do not just co-exist, but overlap and reinforce each other in surprising ways, is foundational to all social justice work today. Intersectionality is key when looking at health because globally, women are not a homogenous group; gender interacts with other well-studied factors such as race, dis/ability, and poverty around the world to produce health outcomes which continually depend on context. 

Core Readings:

  • Crenshaw, K. (1991). Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color. Stanford Law Review, 43(6), pp. 1241–1299. DOI: 10.2307/1229039
  • Kapilashrami, A. & Havkinsky, E. (2018). Intersectionality and why it matters to global health. The Lancet, 391(10140), pp. 2589-2591. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31431-4
  • Hakinvsky, O. (2012). Women’s health, men’s health, and gender and health: Implications of intersectionality. Social Science and Medicine, 74(11), pp. 1712-1720. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.11.029

Further Readings:

  • Bliss, J. (2016). Black Feminism Out of Place. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 41(4), pp. 727-749. DOI: 10.1086/685477
  • Cho, S., Crenshaw, K. & McCall, L. (2013). Towards a Field of Intersectionality Studies: Theory, Applications and Praxis. Signs: Journal or Women in Culture and Society, 38(4), pp. 785-810. DOI: 10.1086/669608
  • Crenshaw, K. The Urgency of Intersectionality
  • Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989(1), pp. 139-168. Available here.
  • Nash, J.C. (2008). Re-Thinking Intersectionality. Feminist Review, 89(1), pp.1-15. DOI: 10.1057/fr.2008.4
  • Swarr, A.L. & Nagar, R. (2003). Dismantling Assumptions: Interrogating “Lesbian” Struggles for Identity and Survival in India and South Africa. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 29(2), pp. 491-516. DOI: 10.1086/378573
  • Zeinali, Z., et al. (2019). Intersectionality and global health leadership: parity is not enough. Human Resources For Health, 17(29). DOI: 10.1186/s12960-019-0367-3

Recommended further readings can be found here.

Domestic and sexual violence against women is almost universal, and a prime example of a culturally produced and gender specific health risk. Gender based violence is a global health problem of epidemic proportions and a gross violation of human rights. Gender norms also drive the high rates of death due to violence in men, albeit in a different context, which these readings aim to explore.

Core Readings:

  • Ellsberg, M., et al. (2015). Prevention of violence against women and girls: what does the evidence say?The Lancet, 385(9977), 1555–1566. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61703-7
  • Ertürk, Y. (2009). Towards a Post-Patriarchal Gender Order: Confronting the universality and the particularity of violence against women. Sociologisk Forskning, 46(4), pp. 61- 70. Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20853687
  • Jewkes, R., Flood, M., Lang, J. (2015). From work with men and boys to changes of social norms and reduction of inequities in gender relations: a conceptual shift in prevention of violence against women and girls. The Lancet, 385(9977), pp. 1580–1589. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61683-4
  • Mannell, J., Jackson, S., & Umutoni, A. (2016). Women's responses to intimate partner violence in Rwanda: Rethinking agency in constrained social contexts. Global public health, 11(1-2), pp. 65-8. DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1013050

Further Readings:

  • Aburto, J.M. et al. (2016). Homicides in Mexico reversed life expectancy gains for men and slowed them for women, 2000-2010. Health Affairs, 35(1), pp. 88-95. DOI: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.0068
  • Bourgois, P. (2003). In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bourgois, P. (2004). US Inner-City Apartheid: the contours of structural and interpersonal violence. In Scheper-Hughes, N. and Bourgois, P. (Eds) Violence in War and Peace. Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 301-307.
  • Burgess, R. (2016) ‘Dangerous Discourses? Silencing women within ‘global mental health’ practice?’. In Gideon, J. (Ed) Handbook on Gender and Health. Edward Elgar press, pp.79-97. DOI: 10.4337/9781784710866
  • Carlson, J. (2015). Mourning Mayberry: Guns, Masculinity, and Socioeconomic Decline. Gender & Society, 29(3), pp. 386-409. DOI: 10.1177/0891243214554799
  • Doezema, J. (2002). Who gets to choose? Coercion, consent, and the UN Trafficking Protocol. Gender and Development, 10(1), pp. 20-27. DOI: 10.1080/13552070215897
  • Green, L. (2015) Commentary: The Vicissitudes of Violence. Latin American Perspectives, 203(42), pp.103-107. DOI: 10.1177/0094582X15574717
  • Hume, M. (2004). “It’s as if you don’t know, because you don’t do anything about it”: gender and violence in El Salvador. Environment & Urbanization, 16(2), pp. 63-72. DOI: 10.1177/095624780401600223
  • Khanna, M. (2002). Righteous Violence and Non-Violence: An Inseparable Dyad of Hindu Tradition. In Ahmed, D.S. (Ed) Gendering the Spirit: Women, Religion and the Post-Colonial Response. London: Zed Books Ltd.
  • Mannell, J., Ahmad, L. & Ahmad, A. (2018). Narrative storytelling as mental health support for women experiencing gender-based violence in Afghanistan. Social Science & Medicine, 214, pp.91-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.08.011
  • Myrttinen, H. (2005). Masculinities, Violence and Power in Timor Leste. Lusotopie, 12(1-2), pp. 233-244. DOI: 10.1163/17683084-0120102017
  • Nussbaum, M.C. (2006). Introduction. In Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Radford, J. & Russell, D.E.H. (Eds) (1992). Femicide, the politics of women killing. Buckingham: Open University Press.
  • Raymond, J. (2001). Guide to the New UN Trafficking Protocol. Available at: http://www.catwinternational.org/Content/Images/Article/83/attachment.pdf
  • Sen, P. (1999). Enhancing Women’s Choices in Responding to Domestic Violence in Calcutta: A Comparison of Employment and Education. The European Journal of Development Research, 11(2), pp. 65-86. DOI: 10.1080/09578819908426739
  • Sen, P. (2003). Successes and challenges: understanding the global movement to end violence against women. In Kaldor, M., Anheier, H. & Glasius, M. (Eds) Global Civil Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 119-147.
  • Sen, P. (2005). ‘Crimes of Honour’, value and meaning. In Hossain, S. & Welchman, L. (Eds) 'Honour': Crimes, Paradigms and Violence Against Women. London: Zed Books Ltd, pp. 42-63.
  • True, J. (2012) Crossing Borders to Make Ends Meet: Sex Trafficking the Maid Trade, and Other Gendered Forms of Labor Exploitation. In The political economy of violence against women. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 53-76.
  • Wilson, T.D. (2014). Violence against Women in Latin America. Latin American Perspectives, 41(1), pp. 3-18. DOI: 10.1177/0094582X13492143
  • Wright, M. (2011). Necropolitics, Narcopolitics, and Femicide: Gendered Violence on the Mexico-U.S. Border. Signs, 36(3), 707-731
. DOI: 10.1086/657496
  • Yadav, P. (2016). White sari—Transforming Widowhood in Nepal. Gender, Technology and Development, 20(1), pp.1-24. DOI: 10.1177/0971852415618748
  • Žižek, S. (2008). Introduction and Adagio ma non troppo e molto espressivo: SOS Violence. In Violence: Six sideways reflections. London: Profile Book Ltd., pp.1-25. 

Issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity are  tightly linked to gender norms. Sexual orientation and gender variance can be intersecting factors that influence the treatment of a person by society and can influence their specific health risks. The cisgendered, heterosexual body is considered the norm across much of the world; to be seen to exist outside of these categories can carry unique risks and can drive health inequalities.

Core Readings:

  • Lombardi, E.L. et al. (2002). Gender violence: transgender experiences with violence and discrimination. Journal of Homosexuality, 42(1), pp. 89-101. DOI: 10.1300/J082v42n01_05
  • Garcia, J. et al. (2016). The limitations of ‘Black MSM’ as a category: Why gender, sexuality and desire still matter for social and biomedical HIV prevention methods. Global Public Health, 11(7-8), pp. 1026-1048. DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1134616
  • Gosine, A. (2006). ‘Race’, Culture, Power, Sex, Desire, Love: Writing in ‘Men who have Sex with Men’. IDS Bulletin, 37(5), pp. 27-33. DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-5436.2006.tb00298.x
  • Morgensen, S.L. (2010). Settler Homonationalism: Theorizing Settler Colonialism within Queer Modernities. GLQ, 16(1-2), pp. 105-131. DOI: 10.1215/10642684-2009-015
  • Poteat, T.,German, D. & Flynn, C. (2016). The conflation of gender and sex: Gaps and opportunities in HIV data among transgender women and MSM. Global Public Health, 11(7-8), pp. 835-848. DOI: 10.1080/17441692.2015.1134615

Further Readings:

Suggested further readings available here.

Reproductive health is one of the few areas of medicine and research that has historically had more of a gendered approach. Future approaches should expand the classic focus on women’s reproductive health to encompass the reproductive health of all people, as well as implementing gender-transformative strategies to challenge unhelpful societal gender norms which may be shaping these health problems.

Core Readings:

  • Cook, R.J., Dickens, B.M. & Fathalla, M.F. (2003). Reproductive health and human rights: integrating medicine, ethics and law. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Franklin, S. (2011). Not a flat world: the future of cross-border reproductive care. Reproductive Biomedicine Online, 23(7), pp. 814-816. DOI: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2011.09.016
  • Inhorn, M.C. (2003). "The Worms are Weak": Male Infertility and Patriarchal Paradoxes in Egypt. Men and Masculinities, 5(3), pp. 236-256. DOI: 10.1177/1097184X02238525
  • Vayena, E., et al. (2009). Assisted reproductive technologies in developing countries: are we caring yet? Fertility and Sterility, 92(2), pp. 413–416. DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2009.02.011

The research and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) is lagging behind many other fields of health with regards to its gender-sensitivity. This is despite the fact that men and women often have different exposures to risk factors for NCDs, many as a result of social gender norms, from the harmful use of alcohol, tobacco use and unhealthy diets to advertising that exploits gender norms to promote unhealthy products. NCD interventions need to become more gender-sensitive, taking into account the differing relationships that men and women may have to different risk factors and risk-promoting behaviours, and the differences in the way that they may respond to a given intervention as a result of these social gender norms.

Core Readings:

Gender, as it is currently understood within societies across the globe, is a product of historical processes. The process of colonialism under European powers has created and re-created structures of gender throughout much of the world and continues to define how gender is thought about and experienced in development today. Decolonial theory both helps us make sense of this, and is an active political decolonisation process, especially relevant in an aid/development context.

Core Readings:

  • Bashford, A. (2004). Imperial Hygiene: A Critical History of Colonialism. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Connell, R. (2015). Meeting at the edge of fear: Theory on a world scale. Feminist Theory, 16(1), pp. 49-66. DOI: 10.1177/1464700114562531
  • Lugones, M.  (2016). The coloniality of gender. In Harcourt, W. (Ed) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development: Critical Engagements in Feminist Theory and Practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Morgensen, S. L. (2014). Indigenous Transnationalism and the AIDS Pandemic: Challenging Settler Colonialism within Global Health Governance. In Smith, A. & Simpson, A. (Eds) Theorising Native Studies. Durham; London: Duke University Press, pp. 188-206.
  • Oyěwùmí, O. (1997). The invention of women: making an African sense of Western gender discourses. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Further Readings:

  • Lugones, M. (2007). Heterosexualism and the Colonial/Modern Gender System. Hypatia, 22(1), pp. 186-219. DOI: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2007.tb01156.x
  • Mies, M. (2014). Colonization and Housewifization. In Patriarchy and accumulation on a world scale: women in the international division of labour. London: Zed Books Ltd, pp. 74-111.
  • Mohanty, C.T. (1991). Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. In Mohanty, C.T., Russo, A. & Torres, L. (Eds) Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 51-80.
  • Tamale, S. (Ed) (2011) African Sexualities: A reader. Cape Town; Dakar; Nairobi; Oxford: Pambazuka Press.

Often, if organisations do take a gendered approach in their policy, programmes, or research, ‘gendered’ is interpreted as meaning focussed on women and girls. There are also many issues associated specifically with masculinities and men’s health that need addressing, for example the fact that globally men have a shorter life expectancy than women. Biology cannot account solely for this: we know that gendered behaviours, such as increased occurrence of violence, risky behaviours and increased alcohol and tobacco consumption, play a large role. Promoting gender equity in health means promoting the gender-specific health needs of all people; approaches to men’s health should both understand and aim to offset the negative impact that socially dictated - and commercially reinforced - gender norms have on men’s health. 

Core Readings:

Further Readings:

  • Baird, A. (2012). The Violent Gang and the Construction of Masculinity Amongst Socially Excluded Young Men. Safer Communities, 11(4), pp. 179-190. DOI: 10.1108/17578041211271445
  • Bordo, S. (1993). Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley; LA; London: University of California Press.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2001). Masculine domination. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Connell, C. (2005). Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Connell. R. (1993). The Big Picture: Masculinities in recent world history. Theory and Society, 22(5), pp. 597-623. DOI: 10.1007/BF00993538
  • Gutmann, M.C. (1996;2007). The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City. Berkeley; Los Angeles; London: University of California Press.
  • Hansen, H. (2012). The “new masculinity”: Addiction treatment as a reconstruction of gender in Puerto Rican evangelist street ministries. Social Science & Medicine, 74(11), pp. 1721-1728. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.06.048
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Gender and sexuality are increasingly being explored as themes in popular culture. Here, we find references to the cultural and social aspects of gender in popular culture and share some of our favourite readings, films and podcasts exploring these topics, as well as many suggestions from the twitter community. Of course these examples are not without their flaws, or perfectly representative, but they help to open up the discussion surrounding gender and sexuality. We welcome your suggestions from your favourite books, podcasts, films and more - so get in touch at igh.gendercentre@ucl.ac.uk or via the form at www.ighgc.org/resources. 

Gender and Intersectionality

  • A Burst of Light: and Other Essays - Audre Lourde - a collection of poetry, theory and prose reflecting on the experiences of a “self-described black feminist lesbian mother poet”
  • Ain’t I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism - Bell Hooks - examines the historic and current oppression of black women, and the intersection of gender, race and class, with the inclusion of personal experiences
  • Can We All Be Feminists? Seventeen Writers on Intersectionality, Identity and Finding the Right Way Forward for Feminism - June Eric-Udorie (Ed) - an intersectional feminist anthology which examines how the concept of “feminism” relates to different individuals and why some find it difficult to identify with
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings - Maya Angelou - a memoir detailing the experiences and discimination suffered by a black woman, a civil rights activist and award-winning author, as she grew up in the American South in the 1930s, including her experiences of poverty and sexual violence
  • No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity - Sarah Haley - explores the injustices carried out against incarcerated women of colour in the American South
  • The Color Purple - Alice Walker - a novel detailing the experience of a black woman in the 1930s deep American South, her repeated abuse by the men in her life, and her journey to the development of her own voice, independence and sexuality, inspired by the strong women around her
  • Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches - Audre Lourde - collection of feminist essays and speeches by black lesbian poet and writer Audre Lourde tackling issues surrounding “sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, and class”
  • The Colour of Madness: Exploring BAME mental health in the UK - Samara Linton & Rianna Walcott (Eds) - an anthology produced by BAME authors from many backgrounds, exploring issues surrounding mental health
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Colour - Cherríe Moraga & Gloria Anzaldúa (Eds) - a collection of multimedia entries which explores the intersection of “race, class, gender and sexuality”, particularly focussing on the societal oppression of women of colour, and the relationship of these factors to the concept of feminism
  • We Should all be feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -  a personal essay that redefines the concept of feminism and calls for inclusivity
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini - a novel depicting the life of a fifteen-year old girl entering into an arranged marriage in the context of Kabul, Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover
  • The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write - Sabrina Mahfouz (Ed) - accounts from Muslim women of all backgrounds to broaden the perception of what it is to be a ‘Muslim woman’
  • Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate - Leila Ahmed - examines attitudes towards women in Islamic culture from both a historical and contemporary perspective
  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World - Elif Shafak - an unflinching look at sexual violence, stigma, discrimination and resiliance through the life of a sex worker “Tequila Leila”, who lies dying in a rubbish bin on the outskirts of Istanbul.

Feminism

  • Bad Feminist - Roxane Gay - a collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation.
  • Forgotten Women: The Scientists - Zing Tseng - highlighting female historical figures who have made large contributions to the field of science and not been properly recognised and celebrated
  • Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters - Jessica Valenti - discusses a wide range of issues surrounding gender and feminism with the aim of engaging the next generation of women with feminist ideas and action
  • Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal - J. Jack Halberstam - examines the shifts in gender roles and family structure that society has undergone in the last few decades, and the widening gap between many people’s lived reality and the still predominantly heteronormative narritives in popular media
  • Re-enchanting the World: Feminism and the Politics of the Commons - Silvia Federici - “a history and critique of the commons from a feminist perspective”
  • The Little Book of Feminist Saints - Julia Pierpont - a collection of short biographical entries on some of the world’s most influential and progressive women, past and present
  • The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir - a seminal study of women and their role in society that preceded the organised feminist movement
  • Women & Power: A Manifesto - Mary Beard - with personal reflections, “revisits the gender agenda and shows how history has treated powerful women… explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, our cultural assumptions about women’s relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template”
  • Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong - and the New Research That’s Rewriting the Story - Angela Saini - examines historical research that was used to perpetuate gender inequality and women’s new place in science
  • Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men - Caroline Criado Perez - highlights the everyday ways in which the world we live in is biased towards the convenience of men and how a gender negatively affects women in a multitude of scenarios with a large cumulative effect

Sexual and reproductive health and rights

  • The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood - a novel set in a dystopian future where fertile women are owned by and forced to bear the children of wealthy men
  • Half the Sky: How to Change the World - Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof - accounts of women all over who are suffering hardships and struggling to overcome them, examining the concept of ‘gendercide’ and framing gender equality as the pivotal struggle of the 21st century
  • Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain - Abby Norman - a memoir of one woman’s struggle to have her health problems taken seriously by medical professionals, an account of women’s health through time, and a call for a systemic change in attitude in the health profession
  • The Cancer Journals - Audre Lorde - an account of Lorde’s experiences dealing with breast cancer with a broader examination of the political context

LGBT+

  • Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution - Shiri Eisner - examines the politics of bisexuality and the marginalized status of bisexuals within both straight and gay communities
  • Burgerz - Travis Alabanza - a play written by a black, trans feminine, gender non-conforming performance artist in response to a transphobic incident when a burger was thrown at them
  • GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary - Joan Nestle, Clare Howell & Riki Wilchins (Eds) - an anthology by three experts in gender studies, examining the developing landscape of gender outside traditional binary classifications, collating “thirty first-person accounts of gender construction, exploration, and questioning”
  • Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides - a novel presenting a controversial depiction of the life of an intersex immigrant in the USA
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Feminity - Julia Serano - reflections on the experiences of a lesbian transgender activist and explorations of the both the biological and social perspectives on gender, “debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality”
  • Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran - Afsaneh Najmabadi - examines the narrative of sexuality and gender identity in modern Iran

Gender as a social structure

  • Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences - Cordelia Fine - examines the pseudo-science that has been used to prop up gender-unequal systems, and the influence of culture on identity
  • Essays by Rebecca Solnit (e.g. Men Explain Things To Me)
  • feeld - Jos Charles - collection of poetry on gender and the language that we use to discuss it
  • Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality - Anne Fausto-Sterling - “argues that even the most fundamental knowledge about sex is shaped by the culture in which scientific knowledge is produced” and discusses the politicisation of the body and the restrictiveness of current normative gender classifications
  • Sex Object: A Memoir - Jessica Valenti - a memoir exmining the effect of sexism at every level on the lives of women

Men and masculinity

  • The Descent of Man - Grayson Perry - an examination of masculinity and how concepts of masculinity could be shaped to form a better society
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz - an exploration of the growing friendship between two Latino boys, and what transformative love can mean for communities
  • None of the Above - I.W. Gregorio - intersex representation, the fictional story of a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex
  • Little & Lion - Brandy Colbert - a teenage girl comes home to help her brother through his mental illness, but comes to struggle with identity, integrity, and loyalty 
  • Symptoms of Being Human - Jeff Garvin - focussing on a genderfluid teen and the struggles of being gender non-conforming
  • The ABC’s of LGBT+ - Ashley Mardell - a well researched and engaging introduction to the nuances of gender and sexuality
  • The Gentleman's Guide to Vice & Virtue - Mackenzi Lee - bisexual main character, wildly entertaining discussion of gender roles and homophobia in 18th century England
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker - Jen Wang - this very sweet graphic novel explores gender roles and unconventional friendships when a prince asks his tailor to make a dress
  • The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives - Dashka Slater - this is a deeply researched journalistic study of a shocking crime that acted as a nexus for issues of race, gender expression, and poverty in the Californian summer of 2013

Gender and Intersectionality

  • Hidden Figures - USA (English) - a biographical drama about a trio of African-American women whosemathematical genius helped launch the first astronaut into space
  • Out in the Night - USA (English) - a documentary that examines the criminalisation ofrace and sexuality in the arrest and imprisonment of four black lesbians in New York afteran altercation with a man
  • Paris is Burning - USA (English) - a documentary about New York's late 1980's LGBTcommunities and the raucous rise of vogueing.
  • The Color Purple - USA (English) - the adaption of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winningnovel about growing up poor, female and black in the Deep South explores themes ofgender roles, abuse and community.

Gender, sexuality and activism

  • Made in Dagenham - UK (English) - a fictional take on the Ford women car worker's strike of 1968 which saw a group of women workers went on strike for the same wage as their male colleagues and ultimately led to the Equal pay Act of 1970. 
  • Milk - USA (English) - the story of pioneering gay activist Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man to hold public office in the US.
  • On The Basis of Sex - USA (English) - a biopic of a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the ground-breaking case she took to the Supreme court to overturn gender discrimination. 
  • Suffragette - UK (English) - a biopic about the battle to secure the vote for women in England in the first half of the twentieth century. 

LGBT+

  • A fantastic woman - Chile (Spanish) - a powerful exploration of transphobia, discrimination, and violence in the Chilean capital of Santiago.
  • All About My Mother - Spain (Spanish) - a camp black comedy about love, parenthood, friendship, transsexualism and HIV/AIDS. 
  • Blue is the Warmest Colour - France (French) - a passionate and erotic tale of a young woman's journey to self-acceptance and self-love through an intense relationship with a blue-haired woman. 
  • Boys Don't Cry - USA (English) -a biographical filmthat explores the violent intolerance underpinning the murder of a transexual man in Nebraska.
  • Carol - USA (English) - the story of a forbidden love affair between two women in the early 1950s
  • Dear Ex - Taiwan (Mandarin) - a tale of betrayal, loss, love and acceptance of a family in the wake of the death of a father and the re-appearance of his homosexual lover. 
  • Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga/How I Felt When I Saw That Girl - India (Hindi) - Bollywood’s first LGBT+ romance film released in the wake of Indian Supreme Court’s 2018 decision decriminalising homosexuality. 
  • Elisa and Marcela - Spain (Spanish) - a biographical romantic drama about the first same-sex marriage in Spain and the discrimination and intolerance that they faced at the hands of their society. 
  • Fire - India/Canada (Hindi/English) - a tale of love, desire, and rebellion of two housewives who fall in love with one another and confront the intolerances of their societies and families.
  • Gentleman Jack (TV series) - UK (English) - a playful retelling of the life of Anne Lister,  the first modern lesbian in 1832 Halifax. 
  • The Danish Girl - Denmark/France (English) - the story of transgender Lili Elbe, a pioneering recipient of gender reassignment surgery in the 1930s. 
  • The Favourite - UK (English) - a dark comedy loosely based on the politico-sexual love triangle between Queen Anne. the Baroness Masham and the Duchess of Marlborough. 
  • Transparent (TV series) - USA (English) - an American comedy-drama series that revolves around a Los Angeles family in the wake of the revelation that their father is a trans woman. 
  • Laurence Anyways - Canada  (French) - the story of a trans woman navigating relationships, prejudice and violence in Montreal.
  • Pride - UK (English) - a biopic about the summer of 1984 when an unlikely union formed between the National Union of Mineworkers and a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists.
  • Rafiki - Kenya (English, Swahili) - the tale of two teenager's secret lesbian relationship in the homophobic and restrictive context of Kenyan politics. 

Men and masculinity

  • Moonlight - USA (English) - a gay man’s journey from a deprived childhood through rage and towards self-realisation in Miami. 
  • The Mask You Live In - USA (English) - a documentary that explores what it means to be a man in American society. 
  • All in My Family - USA/China (English, Mandarin) - a documentary about a Chinese man’s struggle to be accepted by his family as a gay man. Exploring issues of culture, family, tradition and relationships. 

Sexual and reproductive health and rights

  • 4 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days - Romania (Romanian) - the story of an illegal abortion in communist Romania. 
  • Vera Drake - UK (English) - an illegal abortionist, Vera Drake, finds her beliefs and practices clash with the restrictive and patriarchal mores of 1950s Britain. 
  • We Were Here - USA (English) - a reflexctive exploration on the crises facing the gay community in San Francisco in the early 1980s and the impact of AIDS on the city's inhabitants. 
  • Talk to her - Spain (Spanish) - a parallel story of two men's love for women who are in comas. 

Feminism

  • Antonia's Line - Netherlands (Dutch) - a feminist fairytale about a matriarchal community where feminism and liberalism thrive in the Dutch countryside. 
  • Caramel - Lebanon (Lebanese Arabic) - an ensemble drama about a community of women in a Lebanese beauty parlour that challenge the limits placed on them by a patriarchal society. 
  • Fatma 75 - Tunisia (French) - a feminist essay film that explores gender, sexuality and post-colonialism. 
  • Orlando - Multiple (English) - a film based on the novel by Virginia Woolf that explores the performativity of gender and the slipperiness of social constructs. 
  • The Silences of the Palace - Tunisia (Arabic/French) - a film of bondage and betrayal, art and freedom, and the love and community between mothers and daughters. 
  • Factory Girl - Egypt (Arabic) - a tale of a sweatshop seamstress exposed to the oppression and discrimination of her patriarchal society, only to find strength in her relationship with a matriarchal community of women. 
  • Talk to her - Spain (Spanish) - a parallel story of two men's love for women who are in comas. 
  • Mustang - Turkey (Turkish) - the story of five orphaned girls in a Turkish village that have to confront their conservative society when they're forced into marriages
  • The Hours - UK/USA (English) - the tale of three different women across various time periods in the 20th Century each connected by the works of Virginia Woolf and each battling with issues of freedom, responsibility and identity. 

Gender and Intersectionality

Feminism

Men and masculinity

Gender, global health and development 

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