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Global health can learn a lot from feminist research, according to new study

A group of leading academics have called for a new approach to equality and global health which goes further than addressing inequality through gender quotas. The research, co-authored by Professor Sophie Harman from Queen Mary University of London, advocates that a feminist agenda is vital to move gender equality forward.

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According to the paper, published in a special edition of The Lancet, feminist leadership is about much more than addressing gender quotas. It includes both formal and informal cultural change, which is needed within institutions across global health governance.

The study highlights that gender bias is prevalent when it comes to global health since women predominantly occupy unpaid roles as caregivers and health workers. In addition, the researchers advocate that gender inequality cannot be tackled unless wider issues such as race and socio-economic inequality are also addressed.

The researchers call for inclusive participation and data collection in order to expose, recognise and address the informal and hidden ways in which inequality takes place. Rather than using solely scientific methods for data collection, they argue that future research should include both qualitative and quantitative methods in order to capture the full breadth of work happening in global health.

Professor Sophie Harman said: “Recognition of women and gender in global health is long overdue. Feminists have been asking the big questions about female inclusion and gender for decades; global health can learn a lot from feminist research to answer some of the pressing questions facing the field.”

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