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BOX I - How do gender and ethno-racial origin determine health status? Print E-mail

Ontario Public Health PractionersThe concept of gender is linked to, but not the same as, the biological concept of sex. Gender is a sociological and psychological concept, which describes and explains the different roles, power and influence that society gives to men and women. Gender refers to the roles, personality traits, attitudes, behaviour, values, relative power and influence that society ascribes to the two sexes. Gender roles and norms are part of all social systems, including the health system. Gender-based analysis is one way of understanding how policies and practices are influenced by gender and the different ways they affect men and women. Gender-based analysis distinguishes between concepts of gender equity and gender equality. Feminist analysis focuses specifically the causes of women's inequality. For basic information, in plain language, about some indicators of women's inequality refer to the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women.

Culture, race, and ethnicity are also social and psychological concepts, often used to describe and understand social stratification and individual and group development, which can influence health in many ways. This includes how people link with the health system, their access to health information, their participation in programs, their understanding of health and illness, and their lifestyle choices. Like gender, socially constructed roles and expectations about culture, race and ethnicity affect the social and economic environment and also influence practices and priorities in the health system. For example, Aboriginal people face greater health risks due to economic and social marginalization, devaluation of culture and language and lack of access to culturally appropriate health services (Canadian Institute of Health Research, 2007; Spitzer, 2007, 2005).

For more information about Aboriginal people’s health refer to: Institute of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.

For more information about gender-based analysis refer to: Gender and Sex-based Analysis in Health Research: A Guide for CIHR Peer Review Committees

Last Updated on Monday, 01 June 2009 08:14