Globally gender remains a key factor in differing health outcomes for men and women. This article analyses the particular relevance of gender for debates about global health and the role for international human rights law in supporting improved health outcomes during public health emergencies.
Looking specifically at the recent
Ebola and Zika outbreaks, what we find particularly troubling in both cases is the
paucity of engagement with human rights language and the diverse backgrounds of
women in these locations of crisis, when women-specific advice was being issued.
We find the lessons that should have been learnt from the Ebola experience have not
been applied in the Zika outbreak and there remains a disconnect between the international
public health advice being issued and the experience of pervasive structural
gender inequalities among those experiencing the crises. In both cases we find that
responses at the outbreak of the crisis presume that women have economic, social or
regulatory options to exercise the autonomy contained in international advice. The
problem in the case of both Ebola and Zika has been that leaving structural gender
inequalities out of the crisis response has further compounded those inequalities.
The article argues for a contextual human rights analysis that takes into account
gender as a social and economic determinant of health.
A gendered human rights analysis of Ebola and Zika: locating gender in global health emergencies
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