Health and gender: how we all benefit from digital innovations
Not everyone experiences equal access, availability and impact when it comes to digital applications. Our goal: Equal opportunities thanks to more gender-inclusive digital solutions.
Digital solutions are revolutionising health services. They have enormous potential, but access, availability and use must be open to everyone. People who are at a disadvantage in the analogue world often have the same experience when it comes to digital environments. Without digital inclusion, they cannot access an important component of health services, because authorities, institutions and service providers are increasingly making use of digital systems since the coronavirus pandemic. Guidance from Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH shows how these services can be designed gender inclusively.
Digital applications do not automatically work equally well for everyone. They can reinforce existing inequalities and even make them worse. For example, women are more likely than men to have no internet access – and therefore be unable to access offers such as health apps or digital appointments. Members of the LGBTIQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex, queer) community also frequently experience exclusion in the analogue and digital worlds. Access to the internet is essential, because only users with access can harness the available potential. The authors of the guide conclude that those who design and offer digital applications must therefore ensure that they also reach disadvantaged sections of the population.
Health at the click of a mouse – including for disadvantaged persons
To ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from digital progress, their diversity and inclusion must be considered from the very start. For instance, GIZ has implemented gender-inclusive digital health care apps in Nepal. One example is the licence-free software openIMIS (Open Source Insurance Management Information System), which administers insurance information based on personal profiles. Insured persons can also specify non-binary gender identities in their profile on openIMIS. This opens up access to gender-specific health services.
The guide, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ) provides tips on how to design gender-inclusive digital applications. For example, the authors recommend following the highest digital security standards right from the outset, identifying existing inequalities and contacting the affected target group directly. After all, the digital tools will only be truly beneficial for everyone once they take into account the diversity of all patients.
For more insights and project examples, take a look at the guidance here.