“Gender” refers to the economic, social, political and cultural attributes and opportunities associated with being women and men. The social definitions of what it means to be a woman or a man vary among cultures and change over time. Gender is a sociocultural expression of particular characteristics and roles that are associated with certain groups of people with reference to their sex and sexuality.
Harmful gender norms inhibit women and girls, men and boys from accessing health information and services. Gender inequality impacts the use of contraceptive methods and women’s ability to decide if, when and how often to become pregnant; the ability to deliver safely in a health care facility or with a skilled birth attendant; and the ability to take a child to a health facility. Health services often exclude men, unmarried clients, adolescents and LGBTI clients, and some providers practice gender discrimination and mistreatment in care. Survivors of gender-based violence lack access to timely care, particularly HIV and pregnancy prevention, as well as empathetic counseling and referrals.
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