Gender and Women’s Health


WHO helps to promote the participation of women as equal partners with men in achieving sustainable development, peace, security, full respect for human rights and development, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The empowerment of women continues to be a central feature of the WHO’s efforts to address health-related social, economic and political challenges in developing countries. Gender equality, thus, remains as the mainstay of the WHO programme on Gender and Women’s health.

Country situation

The country’s commitment to and support for women’s development programs over the past two decades have resulted in positive gains in female life expectancy, reducing MMR, IMR and child mortality rates, and empowerment through education. Gender disparities are quite evident in some health indicators like low birth weight, nutrition, etc. Incidents involving violence against women are widely reported. Reliable data on violence against women remains scant. Maternal mortality is still high, while child mortality has fallen. Coverage by skilled birth attendants has increased, though traditional birth attendants are preferred by rural households, for most cases of home delivery and ante-natal check-up.

WHO Contribution

The Bangladesh Country Office has supported the Ministry of Health with advocacy programmes on Gender and Health Issues, aimed at increasing awareness on women’s rights to easy access to modern health care at Government’s health care facilities, in urban and rural areas. This has been accomplished through the Gender and NGO-Stakeholder Participation Unit of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW), GoB. Two recently-completed research studies have been developed by the GNSPU, MOHFW, to carry out situational analysis on gender/ women’s health situation through primary-level disaggregated data collection and analyses, with direct help from technical officers of WHO. A formal training course on methods to deal with cases of violence against women at hospitals has been completed for physicians and nurses. WHO is working together with UNICEF, and other stakeholders, to scale up the one-stop crisis centres for victims of violence against women.

WHO current collaboration

The Bangladesh Country Office is implementing programmes on Gender and Health Issues through the GNSP Unit of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW). Projects are being developed by the GNSPU, MOHFW, to carry out situational analysis on gender/ women’s health situation. This will cover the private sector activities as well. During the current work plan period, the WHO Country Office will help to:

    • Facilitate the initiation of dialogue on gender, women and health (GWH) activities
    • Mobilize resources for compilation of the data and research work regarding GWH, and
    • Facilitate the Gender Wing of Bangladesh Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to form a national committee on GWHN (the network of Women’s groups), to encompass several national NGOs too.
    • Implement activities in the recently launched GoB-UN Joint Programme on Violence Against Women.

For more information:
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