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Why achieving gender equality is of fundamental importance to improve the health and well-being of future generations: a DOHaD perspective

  • Tessa J. Roseboom (a1)


Despite progress in gender equality, women continue to be disadvantaged compared with men. Worldwide, women are more often confronted with poverty, violence, and mental health problems, and they have less access to food and education. All these factors do not only affect women themselves, but also have a negative impact on the child’s early environment and impair its early development, thereby reducing the health and well-being of future generations. Framing gender equality as a women’s issue fails to highlight the importance of gender equality for the health and well-being of the next generation. As a scientific community investigating early human development and health, we have failed to fully recognize and underscore the importance of gender equality in achieving the best possible start for every child. If women and men had equal rights and opportunities, their children would be more likely to reach their full potential which would improve the health and well-being of future generations. Our studies and interventions have not fully taken into account the complexity of gender inequality and women’s disadvantaged positions in society. We need better insight into the complex adaptive interactions between various societal and human factors contributing to gender inequality and find approaches that take this complexity into account. If we want DOHaD science to have societal impact, we should strive beyond gender equality for gender equity and help women achieve equal rights and opportunities. We need to work with public health professionals, human rights activists, and policymakers to gauge the importance of gender equality. After all, gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also a necessary foundation for healthier future generations.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Tessa J. Roseboom, Amsterdam University Medical Centers, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email:


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Why achieving gender equality is of fundamental importance to improve the health and well-being of future generations: a DOHaD perspective

  • Tessa J. Roseboom (a1)


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