Feminist Global Health Policy

Researchers highlight the importance of feminist global health policy in tackling health inequalities

An international group of researchers including a researcher from The George Institute for Global Health, India emphasised the critical need for a Feminist Global Health Policy (FGHP) in addressing existing power structures that hinder health equity worldwide. 

Through a recent study led by Hannah Eger from the School of Public Health at Bielefeld University, Germany who collaborated with an international group of researchers, and activists to emphasises the transformative potential of intersectional feminist approaches in reshaping health policies.

By encompassing holistic, inclusive principles, the FGHP aims to reshape health policies to be responsive to the most marginalised communities and individuals and seeks to advance the transformation of health systems to make them more resilient and better prepared for health risks. Critical considerations of power regimes, intersectionality and knowledge paradigms must be integrated into the framework.

These elements are perceived as pivotal to addressing the complex and interconnected issues of global health and promoting genuine health equity and reproductive justice for all individuals. At the heart of the framework lies a set of fundamental, globally applicable guiding principles, encompassing human rights, equality, democracy and decoloniality. By centring these principles, FGHP seeks to challenge prevailing power structures and historical oppressions that have perpetuated health disparities and inequities worldwide. However, implementing a FGHP must be context-specific and accommodate the respective social determinants of health that uniquely shape health outcomes in different regions and communities.

The findings of the study identified meaningful engagement of community and awareness raising at all levels as pivotal components of a FGHP. Empowering communities and ensuring their involvement in decision-making can lead to more targeted and effective health interventions tailored to their specific needs. At the same time, awareness raising fosters understanding and empathy across diverse populations.

The research study’s findings, published in PLOS Global Public Health shed light on how power dynamics and intersectionality significantly impact health outcomes. The FGHP framework, developed through a participatory research approach, recommends for inclusive and responsive health policies that prioritise health fairness and reproductive rights.

Data was collected between August to September 2022, through online focus group discussions that brought together 11 participants from different parts of the world, with both academic and activist backgrounds. By listening to diverse voices and acknowledging and building on lived experiences, the findings of this study go beyond a literature review and add to the nascent discourse on feminist global health policy. 

Speaking about the FGHP framework Dr. Yatirajula Kanaka Sandhya, Senior Researcher, The George Institute for Global Health India, said, “The FGHP framework offers a holistic approach to addressing health inequalities by focusing on intersectionality, power dynamics, and diverse knowledge systems. It highlights the importance of collaboration among communities, policymakers, researchers, and global health professionals in promoting health equity."

The study highlights the urgent need to break down the existing power systems and promote inclusive approaches in global health policy. By adopting the FGHP framework, stakeholders can work towards a fairer and more equitable global health environment.

The details of this work can be accessed at https://journals.plos.org/globalpublichealth/article?id=10.1371/journal.pgph.0002959