The Women’s Health Bureau

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Health Canada is committed to making the health system more responsive to the health needs of women, and ultimately improving the health status of women in Canada.

Building on this commitment, Health Canada established the Women’s Health Bureau (WHB) in 1993 to serve as a federal focal point for women’s health.

As such, the WHB works across Health Canada, and with other federal government departments and stakeholders to:

  • develop and implement women’s health initiatives at Health Canada
  • promote the development of equitable and effective health research, programs, policies and legislation
  • increase knowledge about how sex and gender affect health, and in particular how they affect women’s health
  • facilitate intergovernmental, community and stakeholder involvement in making the health system more responsive to women’s health
  • advance Canada’s domestic and international commitments to women's health.

The Women’s Health Bureau leads the following initiatives and projects:

Health Canada's Women’s Health Strategy (1999): The Women’s Health Strategy serves as the framework for departmental action in the area of women’s health. The WHB manages implementation of the Strategy, and is guided by its four main objectives:

  • To ensure that Health Canada's policies and programs are responsive to sex and gender differences and to women's health needs
  • To increase knowledge and understanding of women's health and women's health needs
  • To support the provision of effective health services to women
  • To promote good health through preventive measures and the reduction of risk factors that most imperil the health of women.

Health Canada’s Gender-based Analysis Policy (2000): This policy serves as the framework for the application of gender-based analysis (GBA) to the development of policies, programs and legislation at Health Canada. At Health Canada, GBA is an analytical tool that helps identify and clarify the differences between women and men, boys and girls, and identifies how these differences affect health status, access to and interaction with, the health care system. The WHB is responsible for leading and reporting on implementation of the GBA policy at Health Canada, including providing GBA training and tools to Health Canada employees.

Health Canada’s Women’s Health Indicators Project: Launched in January 2002, the Women's Health Indicators project is a research initiative to develop, validate and evaluate a core set of indicators that takes gender and diversity into account. The aim is to improve the ways in which women’s health is measured and to more accurately monitor changes in women’s health status/outcomes.

Health Canada’s Women’s Health Contribution Program: Established in 1996, the Women’s Health Contribution Program supports research and information to inform the policy process and narrow the knowledge gap on gender and the determinants of health. This WHB-managed program currently contributes approximately $2.8 million annually to eligible recipients, which include:

  • The Centres of Excellence for Women’s Health, based in Halifax, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver: The Centres represent a unique multi-disciplinary partnership among academics, community-based organizations and policy makers, which have generated more than 300 research reports (

  • Canadian Women’s Health Network (CWHN): The CWHN communicates the research findings of the Centres of Excellence and other initiatives, facilitates national networking of women's health organizations in Canada and acts as a clearinghouse for women's health information (

  • Other initiatives on key policy issues: Current initiatives include the Women and Health Protection working group (, the National Coordinating Group on Health Care Reform and Women (, and the Aboriginal Women’s Health and Healing Research Group. Other funding has been provided for projects led by the Réseau québécois d'action pour la santé des femmes ( and the Table féministe francophone de concertation provinciale de l’Ontario (

Women’s Health Resources: The WHB website, fact sheets and other publications provide information and resources for policy makers, researchers, decision makers and others interested in key issues in women’s health.

For more information:

Visit Health Canada online for:

New publication from the Women’s Health Bureau!

Exploring Concepts of Gender and Health (2003)

Being male or female has a profound impact on our health status, as well as our access to and use of health services. At Health Canada, gender-based analysis (GBA) is being integrated as a tool in the research-policy-program development cycle to better illustrate how gender affects health throughout the lifecycle -- and to identify opportunities to maintain and improve the health of women and men, girls and boys in Canada. As such, GBA supports the development of health research, policies, programs and legislation that are fair and effective, and are consistent with government commitments to gender equality.

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