Being a man or a woman has a substantial impact on health, as a result of both biological and gender-related differences. The health of women and girls is of distinct concern because, in many societies, they are underprivileged by discrimination rooted in sociocultural facets. For example, women and girls face increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS.
Some of the sociocultural factors that prevent women and girls to benefit from quality health services and achieving the best possible level of health include:
– unequal power relationships between men and women;
– social norms that lessen education and paid employment opportunities;
– an exclusive focus on women’s reproductive roles; and
– the potential or actual experience of physical, sexual, and emotional violence.
While poverty is an important hindrance to positive health outcomes for both men and women, poverty tends to yield a more heightened burden on women and girls’ health due to, for example, feeding practices (malnutrition) and the use of unsafe cooking fuels (COPD).