Gender equity is not an add-on. It is not a “nice” or “not necessary” element of a plan. Though there are many strong leaders and inspiring initiatives in the global health community who are outspoken and actively advancing gender equality, there are still organizations that are not considering gender equity as an integral element when undertaking new initiatives and programs and when reviewing existing work. This isn’t because they don’t care – it’s because they think gender equity doesn’t apply to their particular issue.

What Kati Collective has discovered over our last few years of research and application is that every issue is affected by gender inequity. It may not be a direct barrier to access or services, but it is one of the primary builders of those barriers.

A multinational organization with programs in East and Southern Africa asked us recently to create a theory of change for their immunization services. They particularly wanted to address the seeming inability to close the gap in immunization rates. Was it demand? Access? Supply chain issue?

When we started diving into the data, it became clear that while those issues were real and were affecting rates, they weren’t the only drivers for the gap. Another driver – the important driver – was the mothers: economically disadvantaged mothers who were treated disrespectfully at health centers; migrant mothers who felt shamed by their inability to comprehend instructions; mothers who were told by their male partners that they couldn’t be gone from home for so long. When systemic health issue challenges crash up against cultural gender norms, frustrated mothers who are often under educated and in poverty give up and drop out.

Read the full article about gender equity by Kirsten Gagnaire at Global Washington.