Rising to the challenge

Text Size: Normal / Medium / Large
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-03-31

Sex- and gender-based analysis for health planning, policy and research in Canada

By Jennifer Bernier

For decades, researchers and activists have understood that women’s health and well-being is determined by both sex and gender. For example, we know that female and male bodies have different biological (sex) functions in reproduction and we also know that the social roles and expectations attached to women and men, girls and boys (gender) affect their chances of completing school, providing care for others, having an adequate income, experiencing violence, and living a long, healthy life.

Sex- and gender-based analysis (SGBA) was developed as a method to explore and understand the impact of biological differences between and among women and men, as well as to highlight the effects of gender differences in power, privilege, and opportunity on health and well-being. While conversations about sex- and gender-based analysis have been occurring for nearly three decades, there has recently been a renewed interest in SGBA. In 2008, the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health released a report that identified gender inequity as a key driver of health disparities and urged action to readdress imbalances of power and privilege between and among women and men. As well, in 2009, the Government of Canada introduced a new policy that now requires policy-makers to apply sex- and gender-based analysis to the development, implementation, and evaluation of policies, programs, and research in order to address the different needs of women and men, girls and boys.

While many understand the importance of sex- and gender-based analysis, the concepts can often be confusing and the practice itself challenging. In an attempt to make SGBA more accessible to a diverse audience, the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (ACEWH), British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health (BCCEWH), and Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence (PWHCE) worked together over the past two years to develop a new resource on sex- and gender-based analysis that explains the core concepts of SGBA – which include sex, gender, diversity, and equity – and the process of undertaking a sex- and gender-based analysis. The book also includes concrete examples of the concepts and process, using case studies and commentaries from more than a dozen other contributors.

In the fall of 2009, ACEWH, BCCEWH, and PWHCE planned a series of workshops on sex- and gender-based analysis to complement the book. The workshops were designed to bring together health planners, programmers, policymakers, researchers, and community-based practitioners who were interested in learning how to undertake and integrate SGBA into their work. At the workshops – held in Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Vancouver – participants were introduced to sex- and gender-based analysis, including the current state of knowledge about SGBA and our response to the context, as well as the core concepts and framework outlined in the book. Participants were also guided through a case study that allowed them to practice carrying out a SGBA using each of the five components of the framework, including issues, populations, evidence, implications, and recommendations – all the while paying attention to sex, gender, diversity, and equity.

Participants responded enthusiastically to the workshops, reporting a better understanding of the core concepts and the framework of SGBA as a process, as well as seeing the usefulness of integrating SGBA into their work:

“I love the concepts and will think carefully about the framework and how I may be able to ‘think differently.’”

“I feel I can ‘think’ about how to apply [SGBA] based on a new understanding...”

While the workshops – and the book that inspired the workshops – challenge health planners, programmers, policymakers, researchers, and individuals from community-based organizations to think more deeply about sex and gender, it also provides them with a framework to help people “rise to the challenge” of understanding sex- and gender-based analysis and integrating it into their work.

Rising to the Challenge can be downloaded at the following websites:

Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health www.acewh.dal.ca
British Columbia Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health www.bccewh.bc.ca
Prairie Women’s Health Centre of Excellence www.pwhce.ca

Jennifer Bernier is the Sex- and Gender-based Analysis Coordinator for the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health

AttachmentSize
Network12_2.pdf976.53 KB