Applying a genders lens to public health discourses on men’s health

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The state of men’s health, particularly the high levels of premature mortality amongst men, remains a cause for concern across much of the globe; though the reasons for this premature mortality may vary significantly in different countries and across different continents. Aggregate rates for mortality or longevity have to be treated with some caution as they can hide significant health inequalities across geographical areas and regions or across different groups of men in relation to social class, ethnicity, sexuality and other demographic factors. There is much then that the public health community could do to address these inequalities. This chapter begins by mapping the current issues in relation to men’s health, inequalities and public health and describes where discourses on ‘masculinities’ can fit into these debates. The authors then discuss the implications of this for men in the Global South, in particular approaches taking a gender relations or gender transformative position in dealing with issues such as reproductive health, sexual health and men’s violence. The chapter then moves on to consider the nuances of framing men’s health as an intersectoral endeavour. The authors unpack how a broader focus on men’s health can be embedded into public policy spaces both within and outside of the health sector through the adoption of Health in All Policies (HiAP) and gender mainstreaming approaches. In doing so, discourses of masculinities can be used to refocus men’s health discussions on issues relating to equity (where issues of social justice and fairness come into play) within a public policy space. The development of sex-specific health policies is a controversial part of current debates relating to men and public health responses. Case studies featuring the experiences of two countries that have developed and implemented men’s health policies, Ireland and Australia, are therefore explored in order to illustrate what lessons have been learnt in transitioning from policy development to implementation.

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