Different methods needed to tackle inequality in global health

Global health can learn a lot from debates that have been occurring in feminist international relations for decades.
- Dr Clare Wenham
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Engaging with feminist theory and feminist research is vital to diminish the structural barriers women face in the global health agenda, new comment in The Lancet co-authored by LSE's Dr Clare Wenham shows. Gender inequality persists in global health, as women take on unpaid and unrecognised roles as caregivers and health workers and are underrepresented in leadership positions.

The viewpoint in The Lancet suggests that implementing gender quotas is not enough to change women’s status long term. Permanent change comes not only from shifting formal processes, such as employment law, but requires informal practices to change as well.

Much of the inequality is inherent in the way our society and working life is organised. In order to truly change bias and inequality, which intersects with other drivers of inequality such as race, age, class and religion, the researchers call for more feminist methods of research such as ethnography, participant observation and story-telling to be used. A shift in methodology would help encourage collaborations with marginalised women and other minority groups and show a different aspect of global health.  

Dr Clare Wenham, Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at LSE, commented: “Global health can learn a lot from debates that have been occurring in feminist international relations for decades.”

Behind the article

The Lancet viewpoint, Why It Must Be a Feminist Global Health Agenda, was written by Sara E Davies, Sophie Harman, Rashida Manjoo, Maria Tanyag, and Clare Wenham. It has been published in a special edition of The Lancet.

Sara Davies is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Associate Professor in the School of Government and International Relations at Griffith University, Australia.
Sophie Harman is a Reader in International Politics at Queen Mary University of London.
Rashida Manjoo is a Professor in the Faculty of Law, and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, its Causes and Consequences. She is based at the University of Cape Town.
Maria Tanyag is a Research Fellow at the Monash Gender, Peace and Security Centre, Monash University, Australia.
Clare Wenham is an Assistant Professor of Global Health Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.