Gender Integration: Fostering More Equitable Health Information Systems

Integrating a gender perspective is one of the most effective ways to promote gender equity at all levels of a health information system (HIS). Gender integration in HIS aims to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, and those marginalized due to gender-related norms can influence, participate in, and benefit from HIS efforts [1]. The Country Health Information Systems and Data Use (CHISU) program understands the importance of disaggregating HIS data during collection, analysis, and use to ensure that health systems foster greater equity rather than perpetuating inequities. Further,  when decision-makers examine health inequities, they are better able to translate data into decisions that support equitable policies, increase demand for equity data, and inform health programming.  


Ouattara Fatoumata, a midwife, checks data entries on her cell phone.
Ouattara Fatoumata, a midwife in Cote d’Ivoire, checks data entries on her cell phone. CHISU is supporting the country's Ministry of Health as they transition their COVID-19 response from an emergency to a routine response.


CHISU has been intentionally and systematically integrating gender considerations in HIS strengthening interventions since its inception. The program is doing this through implementation of its Gender Plan, which includes examples, resources, and recommendations of how to institutionalize gender throughout its activities and four strategic areas: HIS governance, data availability and interoperability of systems, data quality and use,  and local organizational capacity enhancement. All CHISU staff participate in a gender training as part of their orientation process, and technical staff are supported through consultations with gender specialists and a detailed gender integration guide. 

This internal integration guide walks technical leads through a process of identifying how each activity may influence or be influenced by gender disparities, power imbalances, and data collection, analysis, and use. The interactive guide has prompts to generate discussion that allows staff to consider which gender considerations to include in their activity planning and reporting. For example, if an activity provides support or technical assistance for HIS strategy or strategic plan development, readers of the guide are prompted with the following ideas for gender integration:

  • Discussing the importance of gender and health in the HIS strategy
  • Institutionalizing the collection and use of sex- or gender-disaggregated data 
  • Include gender in resource mapping and budgeting, particularly because resource allocation for gender mainstreaming often falls short

Over the first two years of the project, CHISU has seen demonstrated growth of activities and staff awareness of gender in HIS. For example, CHISU has supported a focus on gender being written into a data analyst job description in the Ministry of Health in Serbia, newly implemented gender awareness and parity tracking for digital device distribution in Niger, and workshop adaptations to support breastfeeding breaks to allow full participation of female community health workers in Burkina Faso. Sex disaggregation is now included in Mali’s integrated data management system for COVID-19 data, and teams have progressed from merely tracking the number of female and male participants to identifying  gaps in women’s participation and advocating with local stakeholders to invite or support more women to attend. 

By ensuring that gender is a central component of all HIS strengthening, digital transformation, and health system leadership, CHISU’s commitment to gender integration will help promote equitable health and the well-being of all citizens.  



Bloom, S. S. 2018. Improving Gender Equity and Health Outcomes by Addressing Gender in Health Information Systems. Chapel Hill, NC: MEASURE Evaluation.

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