Incorporating Intersectional Gender Analysis into Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty
A toolkit for health researchers
Incorporating Intersectional Gender Analysis into Research on Infectious Diseases of Poverty – A toolkit for health researchers
The biological or chromosomal attributes that separate males, females and intersex people (1,2). Sex is assigned at birth and may differ from a person’s gender identity.
“The socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, attributes and opportunities that any society considers appropriate for men and women, boys and girls” and people with non-binary identities (3).
Gender is often relational, shaping how men/boys, women/girls and people with non-binary identities interact with each other and the world around them. Due to its social construction, gender frequently varies through spaces, contexts and time, as individuals construct differing roles and identities that are shaped by broader political, social and economic circumstance (3–5).
Gender as a power relation shapes vulnerability or risk of disease, access and utilization of health services and ultimate disease experience (1,2)
Gender is just one axis of social advantage/disadvantage and although a key entry point into exploring how marginalization and disadvantage can impact health, it is important to consider other individual and power factors that may improve our understanding of health inequalities and why they exist.
Intersectionality is an analytical lens that examines how different social stratifiers (such as gender, class, ‘race’, education, ethnicity, age, geographic location, religion, migration status, ability, disability, sexuality, etc.) interact to create different experiences of privilege, vulnerability and/or marginalization (6).
Intersectionality and its application in health research is an emerging research paradigm, that seeks to “move beyond single or typically favoured categories of analysis (e.g. sex, gender and class) to consider simultaneous interactions between different aspects of social identity, as well as the impact of systems and processes of oppression and domination” (7).
Intersectional analysis enables a multi-faceted exploration of how factors of privilege and penalty may alternate between contexts or occur simultaneously (8).
Intersectionality is not additive. You should consider how human and social characteristics such as age, gender, sex, ability, disability, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. interact to shape individual experience at a given point or time.
The process of analysing how gender power relations affects women’s and men’s lives, creates differences in men’s and women’s needs and experiences, and how policies, services and programmes can help to address these differences (2).
The process of analysing how gender power relations intersect with other social stratifiers to affect people’s lives; creates differences in needs and experiences; and how policies, services and programmes can help to address these differences.
While intersectional gender analysis aims to move from one dominant social category of analysis and resist essentializing, it does not follow a pure intersectional approach. In this type of analysis, gender is used as an entry point for analytical purposes.
Intersectional gender analysis
A framework is a tool to help researchers, policymakers and planners to organize thinking, research questions, data collection and analysis. Gender-analysis frameworks lead you through a process of thinking about and answering questions related to how different domains of gender power relations affect the topic or area of interest.
Common domains of gender power relations include: who has what (access to resources); who does what (the division of labour and everyday practices); how values are defined (social norms, ideologies, beliefs and perceptions) and who decides (rules and decision-making).
Research that perpetuates gender inequality by reinforcing unbalanced norms, roles and relations.
Research that ignores gender norms, roles and relations.
Research that considers inequality generated by unequal gender norms, roles and relations but takes no remedial action to address it.
Research that considers inequality generated by unequal gender norms, roles and relations, and takes remedial action to address it but does not change underlying power relations.
Research that addresses the causes of gender-based health inequities by transforming harmful gender norms, roles and relations through the inclusion of strategies to foster progressive changes in power relationships between women and men.
A type of gender-sensitive indicator that pertains to only females or only males.
A type of gender-sensitive indicator that measures differences between females and males in relation to a particular metric.
A type of gender-sensitive indicator that measures gender equality directly or is a proxy for gender equality. Indicators that can act as a proxy for gender equality include indicators that explore the different domains included in a gender framework. These may include access to resources, distribution of labour/roles, norms and values, decision-making and possibly known risk factors for disease transmission (e.g. education, condom use, etc.).