Background: Gender mainstreaming is an approach to policy and planning that emphasizes equality between the sexes. It is the stated policy for gender equity in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) health sector, as well as all other sectors, and is enshrined in the policies of its biggest aid givers. However, there is criticism that gender mainstreaming’s application has too often been technocratic and lacking in conceptual clarity not only in PNG but elsewhere. In the health sector this is further exacerbated by a traditional bio-medical approach, which is often paternalistic and insufficiently patient- and family-centered. Methods: This study analyses the policy attitudes toward gender in PNG’s health sector using both data-mining and a traditional, summative content analysis. Results: Our results show that gender is rarely mentioned. When it is, it is most often mentioned in relation to programs such as maternity and childcare for women, and elsewhere is applied technocratically. Conclusion: For PNG to promote greater levels of equity, the focus should first be on conceptualizing gender in a way that is meaningful for Papuans, taking into account the diversity of experiences and setting. Second, there should be greater focus on activists and civil society groups as the stakeholders most likely to make a difference in gender equity.
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- Health equity
- Health policy
- Health services research