Gender Discrimination and Health Workforce Development: An Advocacy Tool

Act to Counter Gender Discrimination

Once you have understood how health professional students and faculty are affected by gender discrimination, it is time to consider which intervention or combination of interventions could be the most effective in your setting to promote equal opportunity and nondiscrimination.

Based on CapacityPlus’s 2012 systematic review, the following tables on Caregiver Responsibilities Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and Other Gender-Transformative Interventions list the most recommended gender-transformative interventions identified by the gender discrimination type that they may potentially address. They are intended to provide health professional educational systems with approaches to recruit and retain students, faculty, and staff in a discrimination-free environment in support of equitable programs for quality education. There are “basic bundles,” or combinations of interventions; when implemented together, these multilevel strategies have the greatest potential to counter gender discrimination and inequalities (Ng, Newman, and Pacqué-Margolis 2012). The basic bundle is recommended, if resources permit, to address the gender discrimination type. However, interventions will be successful only if their intended beneficiaries are aware of and access them. The additional interventions listed may also be useful to consider within your context. 

Click on each intervention listed to review brief descriptive summaries, including implementation examples and lessons learned from assessments of these implementations. The real-world examples are from diverse geographical and resource settings, and may not necessarily represent realistic models for all countries or institutions to follow.

CapacityPlus does not intend that governments or institutions implement every action and intervention listed in this tool. You should select the interventions that are most appropriate for your needs and resource levels. Institutions may find it helpful to develop an implementation plan to address gender discrimination; it may also be helpful to incorporate specific interventions into overall institutional plans and budgets and build upon existing gender and nondiscrimination policies within a given context. Consider which intervention or combination of interventions could be the most effective to counter gender discrimination and inequalities in your context, and which are the most appropriate for your needs and resource levels.

Schools are not the only stakeholders that can take action to prevent and counter gender discrimination and promote gender equality in health professional education settings. Governments can also get involved by passing legislation that mandates employers offer maternity and/or parental leave or by making funds available to assist students or faculty with children to use child care and other services that facilitate the integration of their academic/professional and personal lives. Providing equal opportunity and access through policies and programs must be complemented by treating the life experiences of both genders as having equal value. Schools and workplaces should be restructured to integrate family and work in order to reflect the value of caregiving by both women and men and to ensure gender equality (Newman 2014).

When considering a gender-transformative intervention for your context, you should consider the following criteria. Will the intervention:

  • Provide information and education about discrimination or rights?
  • Challenge and redress common discriminatory gender beliefs and norms?
  • Attempt to change an imbalance of power or otherwise ensure equality?
  • Introduce, make use of, or further (the existing) legal protections against gender discrimination?
  • For caregiver responsibilities discrimination: Transform family, school, and/or work arrangements so that women are not penalized or disadvantaged for caregiving?
  • For sexual harassment: Take measures to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual harassment and other forms of gender discrimination?