Gender, Health, and Security

Authored by: Colleen O’Manique

Routledge Handbook of Global Health Security

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415645478
eBook ISBN: 9780203078563
Adobe ISBN: 9781136155574


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Feminist perspectives remain on the borders of the evolving body of scholarship that situates global health within a security frame. Yet social and political life is profoundly gendered and feminist scholarship has a critical role to play in illuminating both the foundations of health insecurities and the effects of insecurities on differently gendered and located bodies. We need only look to some of today’s sites of conflict to see the ubiquity of sexual violence as part of militarized violence, to the structural violence of the austerity response that has undermined basic health care and has left women struggling to fill the care gap, or the deaths of hundreds of young Bangladeshi women, the result of the absence of the most basic occupational health conditions in the factory where they produced clothing for multinational buyers. One’s experience of “health security” has much to do with gender to the extent that specific vulnerabilities are located in culturally defined gender roles, and one’s sex and gender can circumscribe one’s access to health care and health’s social determinants. Furthermore, in/security is constituted through and by gender as a key component of the matrix of power that governs the life economy. Within most scholarship of global health and accounts of health’s social determinants, gender tends to be seen as one of a collection of variables, with sex and gender often conflated. The reality is more complicated.

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