WomenWatch - Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women

Overview: Health

UN Photo
(Photo: UN/Bikem Ekberzade)

Rural women encounter numerous constraints in accessing affordable, adequate health services in rural areas (e.g. clinics, hospitals, reproductive health/family planning and counseling). This includes affordability, restrictions on their mobility, and a lack access to transport or means for contacting transport (e.g. cell phone). Holistic health services that address the physical, as well as mental and emotional well-being of rural women (e.g. responding to gender-based violence) are needed in rural areas.

WHO has a gender-based approach to public health, which addresses the specific health vulnerabilities and risks of rural women and girls that are identified and addressed in health service delivery. Other agencies also contribute to the goals of improved health and overall well-being for rural women through advocating for social protection, decent work and elimination of child labour. UNFPA does in-depth work on reproductive rights and sexual and reproductive health. It works with the H4+ development partners to improve development effectiveness in health systems, and with national and civil society partners to increase gender responsive training and service delivery to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for women and girls. This is done through improvement of health data; by addressing and transforming social, cultural and geographic barriers; and by engaging men and boys as partners in promoting gender equality. UNFPA has also been a lead agency at the country level working with UN Women and others on the Inter-agency Task Force to End Violence against Women. WHO, FAO and UNFPA collaborate on HIV and AIDS, nutrition, on gender-based violence among other issues; all of which are important to address in the lives of rural women. FAO, ILO and UNICEF are all concerned with labour issues related to rural children. UN Women focuses on issues of gender-based violence and human trafficking – both critical areas related to rural women's health and well-being. The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues has also called for intercultural planning tools and an inter-sectoral approach (that also addresses issues of education, health and violence against women) in the planning and implementation of rural development and agricultural policies and strategies.