By: Aly Diana

Recently, when exploring calls for proposals and funding opportunities, I noticed the introduction of a ‘new’ requirement: the inclusion of GEDSI. For instance, guidelines state: “It should also reference how the project will be responsive to gender equality, disability rights, social inclusion.” My limited understanding of GEDSI and the expectations of donors prompted me to seek further insight. As a newcomer to this concept, I welcome input from those more knowledgeable and experienced. In this brief overview, I aim to clarify the definition of GEDSI, differentiate between sex and gender, explain how these concepts influence various life aspects, including health, and summarize the key elements to incorporate in a GEDSI-related proposal.

Defining GEDSI

GEDSI represents an all-encompassing approach to promoting fair societal conditions:

  1. Gender Equality: This is the state where all genders enjoy equal rights, opportunities, and access to resources. It aims to expand individual freedoms, balance power dynamics, transform gender roles, and improve the overall quality of life, enabling everyone to reach their full potential.
  2. Disability Inclusion: This aspect focuses on understanding how individual capabilities interact with societal participation. It emphasizes ensuring equal opportunities for all, regardless of physical or mental abilities, thus allowing everyone to participate in all life aspects to the best of their abilities and desires.
  3. Social Inclusion: This addresses the challenges of inequality and exclusion, particularly among vulnerable groups. It involves improving participation terms in society, expand access to opportunities and resources, and promoting respect for human rights. The goal is to empower individuals and cultivate peaceful, inclusive societies and institutions.

Understanding the Difference between Sex and Gender.

A critical aspect of GEDSI is understanding the distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender.’ Sex denotes the biological differences between males and females, such as chromosomes, hormone profiles, internal and external sex organs. In contrast, gender is a social and cultural construct. It relates to societal norms, roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men, women, and non-binary or gender-diverse people. This distinction is crucial in research, as it acknowledges that both biological and social factors contribute to the diversity of human experiences and health outcomes.

Examples of Impact of Gender on Health.

Gender, as a multi-dimensional construct, shapes individual identity, social expectations, and behaviors tied to biological sex. It impacts day-to-day life, career, family dynamics, and notably, health. Social norms and structural systems are influenced by gender, making it essential to understand health outcomes. Health interventions like hormone therapies and post-mastectomy reconstructions are examples where gender identity intersects with health practices. Gender roles can restrict access to health services for women and girls and influence medical interactions. Gender bias has been linked to diagnostic delays in women for conditions like cancer and heart disease, as medical training often centers on symptoms experienced by men, leading to misdiagnosis and lower survival rates for women. Globally, gender inequality adversely affects women’s health, influencing social determinants of health, healthcare access, and delivery. Structural sexism not only affects women’s health but also the composition and dynamics of the healthcare workforce. Despite women dominating the healthcare sector, female clinicians face discrimination, lower pay, and fewer career advancement opportunities. There is a lower valuation of female-specific medical procedures and research, with women’s health research often being less publishable and impactful than men’s. The focus on women’s health has traditionally been limited to reproductive issues, with inadequate attention and research on conditions like menstruation and menopause.

Key Considerations for Embedding GEDSI in Proposals.

  • Conducting GEDSI Analysis: Begin with identifying GEDSI issues and plan for a thorough GEDSI analysis to inform the design process. This involves understanding the specific barriers and norms related to gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, indigenous peoples, and ethnic minorities. The analysis should occur early in the design phase.
  • Addressing Barriers and Norms: Use the GED-SI analysis to pinpoint opportunities and actions to tackle barriers and norms. Implement both targeted and integrated strategies to address these issues, which can be refined after the GEDSI analysis.
  • Resource Allocation: Allocate sufficient funding and human resources to support GEDSI-related activities, including technical assistance, further analysis, and training.
  • Risk Identification and Safeguarding: Recognize risks that could hinder GEDSI progress and First Nations engagement, as well as potential adverse effects on vulnerable populations. Develop mitigation strategies and adhere to a ‘do no harm’ approach.
  • GEDSI in Monitoring and Evaluation: Integrate GEDSI-focused output and outcome indicators into monitoring and evaluation frameworks. This should include the collection, analysis, and reporting of disaggregated data to track and report GEDSI progress effectively.


GEDSI’s integration into research and grant proposals is a way in trying to ensure inclusivity and equality/equity in research, reflecting the rich tapestry of human diversity. This paradigm shift, deeply rooted in the history of global equality movements, ensures that research outcomes are beneficial and accessible to all sections of society.


Barr E, Popkin R, Roodzant E, Jaworski B, Temkin SM, 2024. Gender as a social and structural variable: research perspectives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Transl Behav Med; 11;14(1):13-22. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibad014.

CDC, 2020. Disability Inclusion. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/disability-inclusion

Department of Foreign Affair and Trade (DFAT), Australian Government. Partnerships for a Healthy Region: Gender equality, disability and social inclusion (GEDSI) and First Nations Engagement Guidancenote, https://indopacifichealthsecurity.dfat.gov.au/

Department of Foreign Affair and Trade (DFAT), Australian Government, 2023. Gender Equality, Disability and Social Inclusion Analysis. https://www.dfat.gov.au/sites/default/files/gender-equality-disability-social-inclusion-analysis-good-practice-note.pdf

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