Research Topic

The Next Generation of Gender Equality Work: Reflective Action for Health and Justice

About this Research Topic

Gender equality has been lauded as a basic human right and crucial for sustainable development and improved health and well-being. A growing body of evidence suggests that to achieve gender equality we also must shift existing gender norms: expectations of acceptable forms of ways of being for men, women, and other gender minorities. The recent special series of The Lancet has increased the body of evidence on the role in which gender norms can affect people’s health, specifically.

Gender norms can be both protective and harmful. As we plan purposeful action to reframe or loosen harmful gender norms, a few questions need urgent answers: 1) what does gender equality look like and which gender norms require changing to attain it? 2) how do we more effectively study and measure these norms? and 3) what works to facilitate their change? Specifically, in this series we would like to include conceptual, experimental, observational or interventional research studies that contribute to the following sub-themes:

1. History of gender equality and its contemporary conceptual challenges. The first theme examines the history of gender equality and its theoretical antecedents in a range of contexts, particularly in the Global South. We encourage historical and theoretical contributions which examine any of the following questions: How did the concept of gender equality emerge as a generative space of policy and actions, either globally or in a specific setting? Whose voices matter in prioritising global action and policy across cultural contexts that hold different understandings of gender equality? What does a gender equal world look like? What inherent biases exist in existing visions of gender equality (e.g. hidden capitalist agendas, neo-colonialism and cultural imperialism, or coercion of vulnerable populations)? What outcomes should be prioritised to achieve gender equality?

2. Methods to study gender equality. The second theme looks at the challenges of developing effective methods to study and, more specifically, measure gender equality through an intersectional lens across different cultural contexts. This theme will explore new methodological and empirical approaches to investigating gender equality and intersectionality disadvantage in a range of settings. We encourage contributions that critically examine measures of gender norms and intersectionality available in existing global datasets (e.g. DHS, GBD, World Value Survey, Gallup), articles that demonstrate what can be learned from existing data on the current status of global or local gender equality, contributions which asses who is missing in data as well as opportunities to improve data on gender equality for measurement, accountability, and action.

3. The intersectional effect of gender norms and social disadvantage. This third theme will include studies investigating the intersectional effect of gender norms and other categories of disadvantage on people’s health and well-being. Articles in this section will examine the following questions: How do gender norms affect people’s individual and collective agency? What are the consequences of transgressing the gender order for men and women across the life cycle? How do gender norms affect people differently at the margins of social and material disadvantage compared to those at the centre of structures of privilege? How can we better account for these differences in our research and intervention approaches?

4. Failures and successes in gender transformative interventions. This fourth and last theme welcomes studies which utilise a range of methods to look at the effectiveness of gender transformative interventions, with a specific eye to interventions that did not work or that had harmful unintended consequences. Articles in this section will examine the following questions: What are the unintended effects of programs and policies to improve gender equality and loosen restrictive gender norms? What questions should we be asking ourselves in order to minimize unintentional harm as we plan for and evaluate transformative interventions?

We are open to research coming from different research disciplines and traditions, including sociology, social psychology, psychology, clinical neurosciences, occupational health, public health, education, international development, among others. We welcome original research, reviews, case reports, intervention studies, and conceptual papers. The purpose of this Research Topic is to provide the field with a cutting-edge critical update of where the gender equality field is moving, its internal struggles and currents, and future trajectories for research and action.


Keywords: gender equality, health, gender norms, intersectionality, international development, gender measures, global gender equality, gender transformation, post-colonialism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Gender equality has been lauded as a basic human right and crucial for sustainable development and improved health and well-being. A growing body of evidence suggests that to achieve gender equality we also must shift existing gender norms: expectations of acceptable forms of ways of being for men, women, and other gender minorities. The recent special series of The Lancet has increased the body of evidence on the role in which gender norms can affect people’s health, specifically.

Gender norms can be both protective and harmful. As we plan purposeful action to reframe or loosen harmful gender norms, a few questions need urgent answers: 1) what does gender equality look like and which gender norms require changing to attain it? 2) how do we more effectively study and measure these norms? and 3) what works to facilitate their change? Specifically, in this series we would like to include conceptual, experimental, observational or interventional research studies that contribute to the following sub-themes:

1. History of gender equality and its contemporary conceptual challenges. The first theme examines the history of gender equality and its theoretical antecedents in a range of contexts, particularly in the Global South. We encourage historical and theoretical contributions which examine any of the following questions: How did the concept of gender equality emerge as a generative space of policy and actions, either globally or in a specific setting? Whose voices matter in prioritising global action and policy across cultural contexts that hold different understandings of gender equality? What does a gender equal world look like? What inherent biases exist in existing visions of gender equality (e.g. hidden capitalist agendas, neo-colonialism and cultural imperialism, or coercion of vulnerable populations)? What outcomes should be prioritised to achieve gender equality?

2. Methods to study gender equality. The second theme looks at the challenges of developing effective methods to study and, more specifically, measure gender equality through an intersectional lens across different cultural contexts. This theme will explore new methodological and empirical approaches to investigating gender equality and intersectionality disadvantage in a range of settings. We encourage contributions that critically examine measures of gender norms and intersectionality available in existing global datasets (e.g. DHS, GBD, World Value Survey, Gallup), articles that demonstrate what can be learned from existing data on the current status of global or local gender equality, contributions which asses who is missing in data as well as opportunities to improve data on gender equality for measurement, accountability, and action.

3. The intersectional effect of gender norms and social disadvantage. This third theme will include studies investigating the intersectional effect of gender norms and other categories of disadvantage on people’s health and well-being. Articles in this section will examine the following questions: How do gender norms affect people’s individual and collective agency? What are the consequences of transgressing the gender order for men and women across the life cycle? How do gender norms affect people differently at the margins of social and material disadvantage compared to those at the centre of structures of privilege? How can we better account for these differences in our research and intervention approaches?

4. Failures and successes in gender transformative interventions. This fourth and last theme welcomes studies which utilise a range of methods to look at the effectiveness of gender transformative interventions, with a specific eye to interventions that did not work or that had harmful unintended consequences. Articles in this section will examine the following questions: What are the unintended effects of programs and policies to improve gender equality and loosen restrictive gender norms? What questions should we be asking ourselves in order to minimize unintentional harm as we plan for and evaluate transformative interventions?

We are open to research coming from different research disciplines and traditions, including sociology, social psychology, psychology, clinical neurosciences, occupational health, public health, education, international development, among others. We welcome original research, reviews, case reports, intervention studies, and conceptual papers. The purpose of this Research Topic is to provide the field with a cutting-edge critical update of where the gender equality field is moving, its internal struggles and currents, and future trajectories for research and action.


Keywords: gender equality, health, gender norms, intersectionality, international development, gender measures, global gender equality, gender transformation, post-colonialism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

15 August 2020 Abstract
15 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

15 August 2020 Abstract
15 February 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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