Women and men differ in biology, the roles and responsibilities that society assigns to them and their positions in the family and community. This affects the risk they take, those they are exposed to, their efforts to improve their health, and how the health system responds to their needs. It may also have implications for the causes, consequences and management of disease and ill health. Gender-based values and social and cultural norms and stereotypes that are discriminatory may also translate into practices that affect health and well-being.

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Call for more women in public health leadership roles

On International Women’s Day, WHO/Europe highlights the need to ensure women have a place at the centre of public health. Women make up the majority of health professionals in the WHO European Region and throughout the world, and yet, generally, this is not reflected in leadership roles within public health.

Women’s health report

Women’s health and well-being in Europe: beyond the mortality advantage (2016)

Women’s health is at a crossroads. Countries endorsed global efforts to advance women’s health by adopting the 2030 Agenda Sustainable Development and are taking them forward through the Sustainable Development Goals and the global strategy for women, children and adolescents’ health.

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Gender: definitions

Gender is used to describe the characteristics of women and men that are socially constructed, while sex refers to those that are biologically determined. People are born female or male, but learn to be girls and boys who grow into women and men. This learned behaviour makes up gender identity and determines gender roles. The WHO gender policy 2002 defines the terms below.

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