From Gender Sensitivity to an Intersectionality and Participatory Approach in Health Research and Public Policy in the Netherlands

  • Petra VerdonkEmail author
  • Maaike Muntinga
  • Hannah Leyerzapf
  • Tineke Abma
Part of the The Politics of Intersectionality book series (POLI)


In the Netherlands, public policy reforms are shifting the welfare state towards a more activating ‘participation society’. Their implementation might have considerable consequences for variously situated populations in terms of care. In this context, a social movement has emerged advocating for gender sensitivity in research, health care, and health (research) policy, and this includes gender medicine. With a sex and gender(-first) focus, gender medicine is useful for answering certain questions in health and care but also has its limitations.

The authors explore such limitations and discuss the importance of an intersectional approach which aims to capture intersections of sex and gender with other dimensions of difference such as class or ethnicity. Intersectionality-based health research meanders strategically between categories and identities, which helps raise awareness of health disparities. Yet, knowledge does not self-evidently end up in health policy, because a linear relationship between evidence and policy cannot be assumed. This chapter advocates for intersectionality informed participatory approaches to health research and policy development, which provide more valid tools to intervene and inform more equitable health policies, add to an innovative knowledge base, and offer a more effective scientific foundation for the development of inclusive and more equitable health policies and programmes.



The authors thank Lucy Hackworth for editing the English language.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra Verdonk
    • 1
    Email author
  • Maaike Muntinga
    • 2
  • Hannah Leyerzapf
    • 2
  • Tineke Abma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical Humanities, Amsterdam Public Health Research InstituteSchool of Medical Sciences, Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Medical Humanities, Amsterdam Public Health Research InstituteAmsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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