Despite bold commitments by the UN and Member states to mainstream gender in all policies and programmes in health, as well as organisational processes, and a plethora of guidance documents and tools, progress has been limited. As global commitments accelerate to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, more than ever before, there is an urgent need to learn from past failures and build on the successes to advance the gender mainstreaming agenda. Critical evidence is required to guide health policy makers and implementers on how they can ‘do gender’ better. Without this, and real commitment to systemic change, mainstreaming will remain a tokenistic add-on, health investments will not be optimised, and will fail to redress gender inequities
The UN is uniquely placed to provide leadership, harnessing its unrivalled geographical reach, breadth, and scope of operation, as well as its banks of data implementing gender mainstreaming in health programmes. This project draws on realists and practice-based learning approaches to understand what works in gender mainstreaming, for whom, in what circumstances, in what respects and why? in six UN agencies working on global health. The project will help to inform collaborative activities by agencies with health-related mandates to advance the gender mainstreaming agenda in their respective institutions and member states. Findings will also be shared at various events related to Beijing +25, to inform the larger community of advocates and practitioners working for gender equality and women’s empowerment.