How can we combat gender inequality against women in Healthcare for patients and doctors in India?

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Background Information

Sexism within healthcare is something faced by both doctors and patients in India. Women are unfairly turned down when it comes to jobs in the health industry and are given unequal access to healthcare. The first example presented for unequal access to healthcare for women comes from a study done in the Delhi Hospital in 2016-2017. This study was conducted to notice the contrast between appointments for men and appointments for women. The appointments were from all departments except obstetrics and gynecology. The patients traveled from the 3 surrounding Indian States Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Haryana. Here are the statistical results of the study:

 

Furthermore, gender biases seemed to increase further from the hospital’s location in Delhi. The cost of the trip was a big influence on whether it was worth bringing the woman to the capital or if it was better off sending her to a local hospital. In the infographic, we observe that women of reproductive age were granted better healthcare access. This reflects on how culture has made women a priority only if she is old enough to have kids. This priority shows that society thinks women are more important when they can deliver a baby instead of the correct view which would be illness-based. Overall, the study concluded that in order to expand access to healthcare the government needs to develop and strengthen healthcare in a more local sense.  

 

Image from https://magazine.outlookindia.com/story/business-news-top-25-medical-colleges-in-2019/301752

Female Doctors face discrimination in workplaces as well. In India women make of 66% of the med school population while men make up the other 1/3. However, after graduation seeing a female surgeon or superintendent isn’t as common as seeing a male one. Despite the equal education for men and women, women aren’t getting hired after they finish med school. Save for the profession of nurses, other medical branches lack  female workers especially in senior positions. Worldwide, 70% of women are part of the healthcare force but only 25% of those women hold higher positions. 

But I wasn’t offered the position that I deserved and instead a male physiotherapist was. The reasons were the following:

I am not as ‘strong and as resilient’ as the male physiotherapist

I am vulnerable to take more day offs

I may get ill more frequently

I might not be flexible for night shifts,

And the list goes on…

Dr. Jasrah Javed

This shows the unfair biases presented when women are applying for a job. This doctor along with her other female physiotherapists was offered jobs as a full-time intern instead of a doctor. They completed the same hours and did the same work as their male counterparts but weren’t paid or recognized as a proper doctor in their clinic/hospital. In India, the pay gap in the healthcare sector is 25% higher than in other sectors. Women also face other obstacles such as molestation and sexual harassment in their workplaces. All of this comes from the idea that “a girl can’t make it all” which is what Dr. Javed was told and shared in this article. 

 

However, the next question is what the stem of this issue is. Ms. Ranjana Kumari, a woman’s rights activist in India, believes it stems from social aspects. 

 

“The mental conditioning of Indian society has led to women having a very high threshold of patience and silence. Health of a woman is not a priority in our country. No one wants to invest in women’s health. It works both ways because most of the time women also keep silent about their health issues.” 

Ranjana Kumari
Image Source: https://sayfty.com/dr-ranjana-kumari/

This is one of the causes I had thought of as well. The societal upbringing of women affects not only patients but also doctors. As mentioned above women have to face sexual harassment as well as lower wages. Due to the fact women were brought up to keep their opinions to themselves in some cases, they are unable to speak up. These issues lower their morale and add to the demeaning society has already placed on them. Women end up taking what they can get instead of speaking out against unfair wages. The question now is how can we change this?

 

 


For Now

(click arrows to see slideshow)

Image Source for the first picture: https://www.forbes.com/sites/francesbridges/2019/06/29/how-to-make-a-career-change/

Request for Feedback:

Thank you all for reading my page. If you would like to give feedback please use the link to the google form below. If possible please also answer the following questions. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

  1. If you are comfortable sharing, what are some experiences of culture /societal-based sexism for any gender that you or someone you know have faced? 
  2. Do you believe the efforts India is putting in as of now are enough and will be able to bring change and what more could they do as a nation? 
  3. If you could, would you support the programs in place and if not what other solutions would you implement on your own?
  4. Anything else you would like to add on

 

1 Comments

1 comment

  1. Hey Vama! I really enjoyed reading about how influential culture is in terms of providing people with basic medical care or equal work opportunity. It is very interesting to see how culture plays such a large role in everything.

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