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There is little doubt that women continue to face a variety of injustices that hinder them in practically every aspect of their life. Some of the common causes that contribute to gender equality and women's suffrage around the world include the patriarchal system, the socialization process, and retrogressive cultures and traditions, among others. One of the most visible ways in which women feel the effects of oppression and ultimate inequity is in their health and overall well-being. An individual may argue that such effects of inequality are caused by social factors such as intersectionality which interrelate to form the basis of gender based discrimination against women around the globe.
In order to gain proper understanding of some of the elements that interrelate to impact individuals’ perspective with respect to gender inequality one may require to consider some literature works that speak to the subject. For instance; Dobson et al. (2015) provide details of a study that they conducted in Canada to highlight the gender difference that women and men experience in as far as access to and provision of health care is concerned. In their view, the authors conclude that concerned individuals often do not value diagnoses as well as symptoms that individuals report for themselves. Instead, medical practitioners rely and rather prefer to use information that are derived from clinical data bases to carry out medical care.
Notably, this notion has an ultimate impact on the quality of healthcare that the institutions deliver to women; given that they may often prefer to provide the physician with their version of diagnosis. Further, the article reveals that the linkage between individuals’ use of health services as well as the cost has significant impact on their socioeconomic abilities to access the services. What the authors imply is that people’s differences in terms of their sex, gender, age and economic status etcetera affect their ability to access health services.
On the same note, Collins and Anderson (2015) record that a majority of health facilities still lack adequate resources- including policies and structures- that are necessary to address the needs of women. This situation has persisted despite the managements’’ knowledge of the gender differences between men and women and the need to approach their concerns differently. In their view, the current health programs and structures that health facilities have put in place to offer healthcare services are rather bias as neither gender sensitive nor responsive to the specific needs of men and women on the society. The authors proceed to suggest that every healthcare facilities require to have services that consider the biological as well as social differences of men and women in a bid mainstreaming gender equality in the healthcare industry. As such one may argue from this insight that women face health issues due to discrimination either directly through policies, culture and traditions or indirectly by failing to address their needs with specificity.
Notably, a majority of women are at a high risk majorly during their reproductive years and at childhood in as far as well-being is concerned. Some of the problems that one can associate with the state of women’s health include; poor reproductive health, poor nutrition and prolonged illness among others (Vivar 2016). The author also notes that there is a close connection between gender based discrimination and sexism and that the two are the major causes of poor delivery of healthcare services in different parts of the world. The argument implies that women’s health have been subjected to poor quality due to discrimination against women and that the available systems and policies that guide the operation of health facilities do not prioritize their needs.
Hankivsky (2012) also emphasizes that relevant bodies and health institutions are presently aware that intersectionality affects the discrimination with which health services are delivered to men and women. However, the author note that there has not been any proper interrogation concerning this concern and therefore there exists no strategies that are put in place to address the needs of women and men in a gender responsive way. Moreover, the author highlights that the phenomenon of intersectionality has a great impact on the gender of healthcare seekers. It is because it gives scholars and researchers a platform to delve into the inequalities that women face in as far as health care delivery is concerned.
Also, Bhalotra & Rawlings (2011) record that gender based discrimination and the subsequent inequalities have a significant impact on the health of millions of women and girls all over the world. According to the authors, some of the impacts include recurrent sickness, inability to participate in other activities and death in worst case scenario among other impacts. They further notes that whereas women and girls are the most affected by the phenomenon, some boys and men have also found themselves as victims of the discrimination in the health sector. The authors conclude by commending the formation of Gender Equity Networks which aims at addressing the need for healthcare institutions to mainstream gender equality on their healthcare service delivery.
Given the review of the literature, it is evident that indeed women face discrimination in the health sector and the resulting inequality have adverse effects on their daily lives. For instances, women and girls are forced to put up with poor health and sometimes die of illness in the event that they do not get healthcare that is customized to meet their specific needs. There is no doubt that every woman-regardless of her socioeconomic backgrounds needs to have access to quality reproductive healthcare. It is because of their biological structure of their bodies which require to be maintained and their needs address in order to ensure their wellbeing.
Moreover, they are responsible for reproduction of children and therefore there are in dire need for quality healthcare services in order to ensure continuity of the human generation. In addition, women have equal human rights- which are inherent and universal- as men. Therefore, it is only fair that their health needs and concerns are given as much attention as those of the men regardless of any other factor. Needless to say, improvement of women’s access to quality health services affects the economic stability of both men and women to a large extent. It does in the sense that the men do not have to spend more money to cater for their wives, daughters, mothers, etcetera, as a result of the numerous complications that arise due to poor health services.
Rosenfield (2012) points out that intersectionality factors have a great impact in the different ways that men and women access health services at their disposal. In his view, women’s access to quality health services may be limited by the culture and traditions of the society in which she belongs. That is in the sense that a woman may fail to seek maternal health services from professional healthcare providers because of restrictions by either the religious doctrines or traditional believes of her community. Such cultural restrictions that hinder women from accessing quality services are no doubt a major contribution to the deprived health status of many women across the globe.
An issue that is common in most communities is the normalization of promiscuity of men. Women, on the other hand, are often restricted and in most cases subjected to hefty punishment if found guilty of infidelity. This phenomenon, just like many other social issues in societies, affects the health of women in the sense that they are predisposed to all sorts of sexually transmitted diseases from their promiscuous husbands or spouses.
However, neither the governments, nor relevant bodies or institutions responsible for healthcare deliver of most countries do not have proper mechanisms to address such issues, despite the issues having grave impacts on the general well-being of women. Given this insight, it is evident that women are discriminated against and that their issues are not prioritized in as far as health care is concerned. It is also worth noting that this phenomenon predisposes women to a lot of danger. It does in the sense that expectant women in some parts of the world opt to seek delivery services from unprofessional health care givers thus predisposing them to numerous infections or even death in a worst case scenario.
In view of the above discussion, it is imperative for relevant bodies that are concerned with the health care delivery to put in place appropriate measures that consider the needs of both women and men. Some of the ways that relevant bodies or governments can solve the phenomenon of intersectionality include the following; first, by acknowledging the importance of transformative health promotion strategies as a means of delinking such factors as sex and gender among other factors that limit women’s access to quality health services. Secondly, they may also pay attention to the language used in encouraging individuals of both gender to seek professional health services.
Arguably, it is important for the concerned parties to ensure that women do not get the wrong message or that they are not misinformed about seeking for the healthcare services. By providing them with adequate information on the need to seek for professional health care from health facilities, the relevant bodies and governments would not only be enlightening the women on the opportunities that are at their disposal, but also empower them to overcome other related restrictions which weigh them down.
Last but not least, it would be critical for the relevant authorities to consider addressing the social-economic status of women in the society which have an ultimate impact on the wellbeing of women and girls in the society. Such cultural traditions that discriminate women as early marriages and harmful traditional practices have –without any doubt- an ultimate impact in the wellbeing of the women and girls. As such, it would be pointless to address the issue of gender discrimination of women in health care sector without tackling the factors that contribute to the situation.
In a nut shell, women have for a long time been subjugated by intersectionality factors which hinder them from accessing quality health services. As such, there is need to eliminate any factor that contribute to the discrimination of women in the health sector both at the local and international levels. Relevant literature propose for concerned parties to take the needs of women and their perspective into account when laying down strategies for ensuring equality when delivering health services to men and women.
Both men and women have equal basic rights that are reorganized universally and therefore both genders should have equal access to quality health care services. Women are at a high risk of contracting all forms of sexually transmitted infection because most cultural traditions allow men to be promiscuous while restricting the former. However, there has not been enough efforts from the responsible stakeholders to address the phenomenon as it should be addressed. This situation has persisted nearly all over the world despite the dangers that it poses to the livelihoods of both men and women.
It is therefore imperative for the concerned stakeholders to come up with remedial measures to address the issues around discrimination of women in the health sector based on their gender. Some of the ways of reducing gender parity in the health sector is by providing women with adequate health information through promotional messages and addressing the issue of women’s’ economic stability as well as retrogressive traditions that limit them in as far as provision of quality health care is concerned.
Bhalotra, S., & Rawlings, S. B. (2011). Intergenerational persistence in health in developing countries: The penalty of gender inequality? Journal of Public Economics, 95(3), 286-299.
Collins, P. H. & Anderson, M. (2015). Race, class, & gender and health: An anthology. Nelson Education.
Dobson, A. J., Hockey, R., Brown, W. J., Byles, J. E., Loxton, D. J., McLaughlin, D., ... & Mishra, G. D. (2015). Cohort profile update: Canadian longitudinal study on women’s health. International Journal of Epidemiology, 44(5), 1547-1547f.
Hankivsky, O. (2012). Women’s health, men’s health, and gender and health: Effects of intersectionality. Social science & medicine, 74(11), 1712-1720.
Rosenfield, S. (2012). Triple jeopardy? Mental health at the intersection of gender, race, and class. Social Science & Medicine, 74(11), 1791-1801.
Vivar, M. T. H. (2016). Framing intersectionality: Debates on a multi-faceted concept in gender studies. Routledge.
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