Following the 4th International Conference on Women’s Health in Beijing in 1994, governments committed to adding a gender perspective to health care policies. Although much good work has been done since Beijing, health care workers, including physicians, generally do not have a good understanding of the significance of applying a gender perspective to health care. Incorporating a gender perspective into both clinical practice and health care policy has been shown to improve the health of both women and men.

Gender mainstreaming addresses gender relations and is not merely an euphemism for “women’s issues” as men can also be disadvantaged by their gender roles. It leads to improvement in the fundamental principles of society to make men and women equal. Rather than excluding biology, it adds the social and cultural factors that affect power relations between men and women, which either promote or impede health.

Along with experts in gender, the MWIA Executive gathered at the Rockefeller Study and Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, in December, 2001, to brainstorm the format of the manual. The manual was then written with the help of Dr. May Cohen from Canada.
MWIA has conducted Gender Mainstreaming workshops in all regions and has an ongoing commitment to ensure that physicians understand how to add a gender perspective to clinical practice, curriculum and health policy.

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