This editorial discusses a collection of papers examining gender across a range of health policy and systems contexts, from access to services, governance, health financing, and human resources for health. The papers interrogate differing health issues and core health systems functions using a gender lens. Together they produce new knowledge on the multiple impacts of gender on health experiences and demonstrate the importance of gender analyses and gender sensitive interventions for promoting well-being and health systems strengthening. The findings from these papers collectively show how gender intersects with other axes of inequity within specific contexts to shape experiences of health and health seeking within households, communities and health systems; illustrate how gender power relations affect access to important resources; and demonstrate that gender norms, poverty and patriarchy interplay to limit women’s choices and chances both within household interactions and within the health sector. Health systems researchers have a responsibility to promote the incorporation of gender analyses into their studies in order to inform more strategic, effective and equitable health systems interventions, programmes, and policies. Responding to gender inequitable systems, institutions, and services in this sector requires an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach. We cannot claim to take a ‘people-centred approach’ to health systems if the status quo continues.
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