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Gender norms as health harms: reclaiming a life course perspective on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Authors
  • Crockett, Cailin1
  • Cooper, Bergen2
  • 1 Special Assistant for Gender Policy and Elder Rights, Administration for Community Living, US Department of Health and Human Services, Washington DC, USA. Electronic address: [email protected]
  • 2 Director of Policy Research, Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE), Washington DC, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Reproductive health matters
Publication Date
November 2016
Volume
24
Issue
48
Pages
6–13
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.rhm.2016.11.003
PMID: 28024679
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Despite their demographic significance and the lifetime impact of gender disparities on their health and rights, women considered older than reproductive age are excluded from most investments in global public health. While development policies linking human rights with access to sexual and reproductive healthcare have yielded progress towards improving the status of women and girls, older women have not benefited from these initiatives. Yet as women grow older, they experience a range of health conditions rooted in their reproductive biology - from ageing with fistula, to cervical and breast cancers. Current approaches to global women's health ignore these serious conditions, harming older women through the perpetuation of gender norms that construe women's health through a narrow reproductive lens. Meanwhile, older women are generally absent from global ageing discourse, which lacks a gender perspective, creating a dual invisibility as the field of global women's health presumes ageing women are accounted for. Reclaiming the sexual rights framework suggested by the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action, we call for the revision of global health policies to incorporate a life course approach to women's health as a matter of human rights.

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