Gender Equality


HENA seeks gender equality in all policies and practices affecting well-being in the Americas. We support efforts that work to achieve gender equality – that is, when men, women, girls and boys enjoy equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities. These rights cross all sectors of a community and are strengthened when behaviors, goals, and needs are equally valued for all men and women.

Scholars agree that equality between men and women is a human right and a critical factor in encouraging healthy people. According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “gender equality does not mean that men and women have to become the same; their rights, responsibilities, and opportunities will not depend on whether they are born male or female.”


Gender Equality vs. Gender Equity?

  • Gender equality means that men and women have equal conditions for well-being and to contribute to, and benefit from, a society’s political, economic, social and cultural development.
  • Gender equity is the process for being fair to men and women.

Think of gender equality as the end goal and gender equity as the way to get to that goal.


Current Priority Area within Gender Equality

In 2018, HENA’s leadership, aware of the vast issues surrounding gender equality, determined that violence against women would be its initial focus within the gender equality policy work that needs to be completed. We encourage our members and others to learn about this area, take action and support campaigns within your communities that will help to move our societies to prevent violence against women.


Violence Against Women

Violence against women can take many forms: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism and are often interconnected.HENA understands violence against women as any act or conduct, based on gender, which causes death or physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, whether in the public or the private sphere, which may be immediate or long term – even resulting in death.


HENA promotes policies that empower women and we encourage proactive measures to stop the cycle of violence by advocating for access to healthcare, housing, employment, education, and government services and benefits.At the same time, we recognize areas of vulnerability that place women at risk and include but are not limited to those identified by the Office on Women’s Health (US Department of Health and Human Services), Inter-American Convention, and UN Women, including violence in the workplace, educational institution, health facility or any other place; sexual harassment, abuse, rape, torture, kidnapping; intimate partner violence and domestic violence; emotional and verbal abuse; dating violence; financial abuse; and digital abuse.


UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 

The UN 2030 Agenda spells out several steps and policy work needed to take to achieving gender equality. Of its 15 goals for sustainable development, one of the goals of the UN 2030 agenda work toward this HENA policy focus area to achieve gender equality and reduce violence against women:

  • Goal 5: to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.


Recommendations from the Commission of PAHO on Health Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas

HENA’s work is also in step with recommendations released from PAHO in September 2018, specifically:

  • Recommendation 8: to reduce gender-based violence to achieve health equity and a recommendation to eliminate all forms of political violence, including violence to migrants through separation of families and violation of women. Read more about Recommendation 8A and 8C.



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Learn More: Reports and Resources



Just Societies: Health Equity and Dignified Lives. Executive Summary of the Report of the Commission of the Pan American health Organization on Equity and Health Inequalities in the Americas. Last accessed 17 March 2019 from:

Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A/RES/70/1. United Nations. Last accessed 17 March 2019 from: