Authors: (Eleanor Holroyd, Suzanne C. Ho, William C.W. Wong, RMIT University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and others)
Abstract: Sex - the biological fact of being male and female - and gender - the cultural norms that determine masculinity and femininity - have a profound impact on health. It is increasingly well recognized that there are gender differences in the factors determining health and the burden of ill-health (World Health Organisation 2002). The World Health Organisation (WHO) stresses the importance that gender equality and equity concerns be mainstreamed into all policies, programmes and projects. An increasing number of developmental agencies and other organisations are now adopting 'gender and development' as an appropriate methodology for tackling the massive inequalities that continue to limit the potential of so many women around the world (Moser, 1993; UNDP, 1995). This shift towards promotion of development together with gender analysis statistics is now widely endorsed. Gender roles together with a host of associated social and environmental factors can determine an individuals differential exposures to certain risks as well as health behaviours and treatment-seeking patterns across the life span. As such gender roles serve to direct, promote and constrain health beliefs and health behaviours for each sex as well as informing variation in diagnosis, prognosis, interventions and outcomes.