Systems of Oppression

Racism. Heterosexism. Ableism. Sexism. Colonialism. Transphobia. These are just a few of the pervasive “Systems of Oppression” that sustain deep imbalances in power, wealth, and opportunity, fueling profoundly disparate health outcomes within and between communities.   

Health inequities are sustained across a myriad of outcomes – maternal mortality, average life expectancy, chronic disease burden, COVID-19 infection and death rates, injury or death from police brutality. Such disparities do not stem from twists of fate, genetics, nor solely are they the consequences of habits or lifestyle. Rather, long-standing, intersectional systems of oppression can put individuals at higher risk for contracting certain conditions, can disrupt critical physiological processes essential to maintaining good health and deprive individuals and communities of critical health protective resources.  

While these systems of oppression are uniquely manifested, they all work to create and reinforce health inequities, between and within nations, affecting entire populations to individuals and their families.  

These systems manifest in countless ways –   

The Harvard Global Health Institute is committed to illuminating how global pervasive systems of oppression, directly harm health and well-being. By centering these systems as a root cause of health inequity, HGHI is committed to expanding our communal understanding of their connections to health, shaped by principles of justice and equity. Through diverse partnership building that values expertise garnered from both scientific and social research as well as lived experience, HGHI aims to help to chart a path towards inequitable reform and improved health.