Notions of masculinity for example encourage sexual dominance, skill, and experience of men. This can lead to sexual risk-taking, including seeking multiple partners, not using condoms, having sex while intoxicated, and avoiding the discussion of contraception. Unequal power between men and women also impedes cooperation, discussion about household matters, and contributes to coerced sex, the spread of sexually transmitted infections, and unintended pregnancy.
Health systems equally reflect and reinforce the gender biases and restrictive gender norms in society. These biases and norms undermine the functioning of health systems and compromise the safety and wellbeing of providers and the health of communities.
The need for more action and accountability on gender equality is clear: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and goals on Universal Health Coverage and universal access to sexual and reproductive health demand greater attention to the social determinants of health, including gender, for the purpose of enabling all people to reach their full human potential. The systemic neglect of gender norms and inequalities in programme design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation undermine the health of everyone—women and girls, boys and men, and gender minorities. In an era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, there is renewed opportunity for a global social movement on health and gender equality - to counter conservative backlash and change societal attitudes towards masculinity and femininity for good.