HENA seeks gender equality in all policies and practices affecting well-being in the Americas. We support efforts that work to achieve gender equality – that is, when men, women, girls, and boys enjoy equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities. These rights cross all sectors of a community and are strengthened when behaviors, goals, and needs are equally valued for all men and women.
Scholars agree that equality between men and women is a human right and a critical factor in encouraging healthy people. According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “gender equality does not mean that men and women have to become the same; their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.”
Gender Equality vs. Gender Equity?
Gender equality means that men and women have equal conditions for well-being and to contribute to, and benefit from, a society’s political, economic, social, and cultural development.
Gender equity is the process for being fair to men and women.
Think of gender equality as the end goal and gender equity as the way to get to that goal.
Current Priority Area within Gender Equality
In 2018, HENA’s leadership, aware of the vast issues surrounding gender equality, determined that violence against women would be its initial focus within the gender equality policy work that needs to be completed. We encourage our members and others to learn about this area, take action, and support campaigns within your communities that will help to move our societies to prevent violence against women.
Violence Against Women
Violence against women can take many forms: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, and classism and are often interconnected. HENA understands violence against women as any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women. Whether those acts are in the public or the private sphere, whether they are immediate or long term with some acts resulting in death.
HENA promotes policies that empower women and we encourage proactive measures to stop the cycle of violence by advocating for access to healthcare, housing, employment, education, and government services and benefits. At the same time, we recognize areas of vulnerability that place women at risk and include but are not limited to those identified by the Office on Women’s Health (US Department of Health and Human Services), Inter-American Convention, and UN Women, including:
- Violence in the workplace, educational institution, health facility or any other place;
- Sexual harassment, abuse, rape, torture, kidnapping;
- Intimate partner violence and domestic violence;
- Emotional and verbal abuse;
- Dating violence;
- Financial abuse;
- Digital abuse.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), “good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so.”
A major public health issue is cancer of the uterine cervix, also known as cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is caused primarily by certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV), a common sexually transmitted infection. Cervical cancer prevention is part of comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights because of screening approaches and fertility implications:
- It is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the Americas
- Fortunately, more than 90% of cervical cancer is preventable by the HPV vaccine (Global Cancer Institute).
HENA supports Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in the Americas and will continue to promote policies that improve cervical cancer prevention programs throughout the Americas. We encourage proactive measures to comprehensive sexuality education, HPV screening, and services facilitating early diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer.
The UN 2030 Agenda spells out several steps and policy work needed to achieve gender equality. Of its 17 goals for sustainable development, one of the goals of the UN 2030 agenda work toward this HENA policy focus area to achieve gender equality and reduce violence against women:
Goal 5: to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
Recommendations from the Commission of PAHO on Health Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas
HENA’s work is also in step with recommendations released from PAHO in September 2018, specifically those found within Recommendation 8:
- Recommendation 8: to reduce gender-based violence to achieve health equity and a recommendation to eliminate all forms of political violence, including violence to migrants through separation of families and violation of women. Read more about Recommendation 8A and 8C.
Follow the Latest News from HENA’s Listserv
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- 22 May 2019: 24HourProject
- 22 May 2019: Bolsonaro to Simplify Protection for Women who are Victims of Violence
- 22 May 2019: Ducey signs bill into law that will study missing, murdered Indigenous women
- 15 May 2019: New UN Campaign to Bring Youth into Gender Equality Fight
- 8 May 2019: The role of women’s police stations in widening access to justice and eliminating gender violence
- 13 March 2019: Mexico Slashes Funding for Women’s Shelters
- 6 Feb 2019: Fighting Machismo in Latin America: The Formula to Combat Femicides
- 6 Feb 2019: Femicides/Femicidios – Peru
- 14 Jan 2019: ECLAC REPORT: Social Panorama of LatinAmerica/ INFORME CEPAL:Panorama Social de América Latin
- 15 Nov 2018: Sexual Harrassment / El Acoso Sexual
For more information on other HENA priority areas, join the HENA Listserv TODAY!
Click here for Current Campaigns Promoting Gender Equality
Learn More: Reports and Resources
- FHI360: Addressing violence in HIV programs for key populations: opportunities for integration
- Gender-based violence programming in contexts affected by violence and conflict
- Inter-American Convention on the prevention, punishment and eradication of violence against women “Convention of Belem Do Para”
- National Reports: Progress and challenges to prevent and eradicate violence against women in 28 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean
- New report from Promundo: masculine norms and violence: making the connections
- UNESCO. Priority Gender Equality
- UN Women