Culturally relevant gender-based analysis (CRGBA) seeks to understand the unique experiences, needs and challenges of Aboriginal women through a culturally relevant lens. Gender-based analysis, in terms of health, reflects an understanding that women have unique health needs and concerns that are different from those of men, and that women have also experienced differential treatment in health research, policy, programming and practices. For Aboriginal women, this differential treatment has been compounded by the effects of colonization, which denigrated Aboriginal peoples as a whole, but also deeply damaged the roles and respect of Aboriginal women who were traditionally held in high regard. Historically, Aboriginal women commanded the highest respect in their communities as the givers of life and were the keepers of the traditions, practices and customs of the nation. It was well understood that women held a sacred status; they were revered for their ability to create new life and, by extension, create new relationships with the Creator.
The effects of the severe marginalization of Aboriginal women are most evident in violence leveled at our women, and the growing numbers who have gone missing or been murdered. In health, it is reflected in the disproportionate burden of illness and disease, including HIV/AIDS, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, multiple forms of cancer, mental illness, substance abuse and suicide. Aboriginal women also have a shorter lifespan and higher infant mortality rate than non-Aboriginal women. Their burden of illness and disease must be understood within the context of the historical and contemporary social conditions faced by many Aboriginal women, including poverty, under- or unemployment, marginal housing or homelessness, violence and overrepresentation in the criminal justice and child welfare systems.