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Open Access Open Badges Correspondence

Sex, gender, and health biotechnology: points to consider

Jerome Amir Singh1234*, Sunita Bandewar3 and Peter A Singer3

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, Durban, South Africa

2 Howard College School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

3 McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, University Health Network and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4 Dalla Lana School of Public Health and Joint Centre for Bioethics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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BMC International Health and Human Rights 2009, 9:15  doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-15

Published: 21 July 2009



Reproductive technologies have been extensively debated in the literature. As well, feminist economists, environmentalists, and agriculturalists have generated substantial debate and literature on gender. However, the implications for women of health biotechnologies have received relatively less attention. Surprisingly, while gender based frameworks have been proposed in the context of public health policy, practice, health research, and epidemiological research, we could identify no systematic framework for gender analysis of health biotechnology in the developing world.


We propose sex and gender considerations at five critical stages of health biotechnology research and development: priority setting; technology design; clinical trials; commercialization, and health services delivery.


Applying a systematic sex and gender framework to five key process stages of health biotechnology research and development could be a first step towards unlocking the opportunities of this promising science for women in the developing world.