Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Bhatter College, Dantan
Women’s health status is an emerging subject-matter of study revealing diverse inequalities in causes and outcomes of it in both industrialized and developing countries. Various socio-cultural and socio-economic determinants ranging from diverse ideology, beliefs, taboos and practices shape the manifestations, conceptualisation, consequences, appropriate treatment, treatment-seeking behaviour and treatment response. The entire gamut of discussion of this paper revolves around some of these socio-cultural and socio-economic determinants of women’s health issues .
Keywords: women’s health, determinants, beliefs, practices, issues
“Cradle of life; that’s the WOMEN.” Though it was long since identified that women represent one half of the world’s population, supporting an increasing numbering of families; living longer than their male counterparts for biological reasons; are also the one, who often suffer the greater burdens of illness and disability .The recognition of this ground reality has invoke the Government of India to reiterate ,rethink and reallocate and consistently increase the budget outlay for programmes on family planning and women’s health with every Five-Year Plan .However, this has had little impact on the overall scenario ; resulting in contrasting and divulging inequalities in both developed and developing societies. Health concerns of women are often neglected if not unmet; and their lies the importance of emphasising this basic need of women; as health is something to be nurtured , in order to , prevent illness and diseases.
Illness and diseases and its perception, treatment form a common experiences process and is part and parcel of human life in every society. Every community has its own way of dealing with the illness based on certain preconceived knowledge, beliefs and practices build around health and illness, which invariably varies with the members of different communities, as well as, within the members of the same communities .The notion of health is related to the concept “healthy” which simply means living well despite, any inescapable illnesses and diseases. Thereby, health is the balance and integration of physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, occupational and environmental aspects of human condition.
The women’s health movement that started in the United States of America and spread worldwide has been successful in shifting the preconceived notion of women’s health from sex neutrality to gender specificity, from a biomedical model to a social model and to a holistic model, from dependency of the patient to self – determination of the patient, and from doctor – centred care to client–centred care (Richters, 2002). It is being recognised that everywhere women’s experiences, and presentations of their health problems are misunderstood (Chhabra, 2002). The concerns of women’s therapies, preventive and curative in various parts of the world have also been perceived differently (Richters 1992; Zaidi 1996; Vlassof & Manderson 1998).According to Richter (2002), while in some parts of the world the concerns and priorities may be clean water, malaria control, or safe childbirth, in the industrialized world activists charge that scientists have neglected to include women in the epidemiological studies and clinical trials, arguing that researchers mistakenly assumed that data from middle-aged white males apply equally well to women, minorities and the elderly .Partly because of these accusations, the field of gender-based medicine has come into existence, concentrating on the fundamental male-female differences in the incidences and prevalence of specific diseases, specific diseases risks, the response to risk factors, etiology, symptoms, manifestations, the presentation of complaints, the experience of disease and complaints and the dealing with the complaints, the course of the disease, the psycho-social consequences of diseases, the appropriate treatment, treatment responsivity, the kind of health education needed, etc. (Kolk et al; the Journal of Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine ). Despite, all the jargons in the Family Planning Programme and Reproductive and Child Health Programmes, India has failed to achieve the desired goals. In India, women have high mortality rate particularly, in their childhood and in reproductive years. Maternal mortality rates is high in the rural areas accounting for, 19% of still births and 27% of all maternal deaths from a global perspective .The health of Indian women is linked to their societal background and status .The United Nations ranks India as a middle-incomed country. The United Nations Development Programme’s Human Development Report (2011) ranked India 132 out of 187 in terms of gender inequality. Gender Inequality Index (GII) is a multidimensional indicator determined by numerous factors including maternity mortality rate, adolescent fertility rate, educational achievement and labour force participation rate. India exemplifies many of these multidimensional indicators.
The term gender as used often to distinguish the differences between men and women that are socially construed from those that are biologically acquired is more a recent concept. A gender approach to a particular health aspect or a disease probes both the differential impact of it on women and men and the social, cultural and economic contexts within which the person live and work. According to Dr A martya Sen, “Burden of hardships fall disproportionately on women” due to inequalities like: mortality (due to gender bias in health care and nutrition), natality (Sex Selective Abortion and female infanticide), basic facilities (education and skills development), special opportunities (higher education and professional training),employment (promotion) and ownership ( home, land and property)…Full Text PDF