GENDER DIMENSIONS


Birth Control/Eugenics
Eugenics is a social philosophy that advocates genetic improvement of human population. The idea encourages breeding and reproduction by fit people, and discourages reproduction an even advocates sterilization of people with less desired traits or negative traits or unfit people. The application of the principle of eugenics can be traced in ancient Greek societies and modern eugenics movement re-emerged in United Kingdom and spread to other parts of Europe and America. The idea has been politicized and many countries have adopted the principle to improve genetic qualities and health of their citizens.
As measures of birth control Pills were developed during 1920s, and subsequently came use of condoms. Even Margaret Sanger advocated use of pills in support of eugenics, the methods of adopting the most common techniques, namely pills and condoms are highly discriminating towards female. Any contraceptive use disturbs the normal rhythm of child bearing by females as it is crucial for a woman to be within the ideal child-bearing age in order to deliver the new born without being subjected to age-related risks. Even continuous use of pills may medically damage health and mental wellbeing of a woman. But men are not subjected to such deprivation and even spared of swallowing pills. Birth control techniques are highly gender sensitive that discriminate against women.
Biological Determinism
Biological determinism follows from the overlapping of two separate concepts; sex and gender. While sex  denotes males and females on the basis of physical features, sex organs, chromosomes, and hormones, gender denotes males and females on the basis of social factors, namely social position, behaviour, power, and identity. This segregation was made by the feminist ideologues to counter the philosophy of biological determinism that is biology is the destiny.
It has been argued by biological determinists that metabolic state determines the sociological, psychological, and behavioral traits of human beings. Propagators of biological determinism argue that in male metabolism kinetic energy is released and in female metabolism potential energy is stored. Thus women conserve energy that makes them passive, conservative, slow, and uninterested in social activities including politics. On the other hand, males break-down the protein and release heat that make them energetic, active, and interested in social matters including politics. On the basis of this difference of metabolism between males and females, biological determinists not only differentiate between men and women on the basis of behaviours but also try to justify the structure of the society that deprive women from enjoying equal political rights with men. They argue that biologically women are incapable of taking political responsibilities and it would be futile to confer them political rights, as men should enjoy, as they are pathologically did-interested in political activities.
Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health (SDOH) are certain social and economic conditions of individuals and their distribution among the population. Income, wealth, power, food security, intake of nutrition are the social determinants of health. It is argued that social determinants have greater influence on the risk of disease or accidental death than individual factors like behavioural risks and genetics.
Discrimination on the basis gender in social determinants is no less pronounced. Social factors such as childhood development, schooling or lack of it and degree of participation in public life on the part of women determine how far they are aware of health problems and their remedial measures. It is as clear as day-light that sub-ordination of women by men on almost all societies in the world determines respective roles of men and women in domestic and public life although the degree of such sub-ordination in between countries and regions within the same country.
It is seen from empirical studies that educational level of mothers and their degree of autonomy have positive correlation with nutrition status of the family. In Latin American, and African countries boys are seen to have greater access to nutrition than girls on the presumption that boys are the future bread-earners for the family. Studies show gender discrimination in food and healthcare allocation in many Latin American countries.
The Hegemony of Biomedicine
Biomedical health care system enjoys hegemonic position in developed as well as developing societies. Hegemony of biomedicines has affected the complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) to a great extent. Hegemony of biomedicine is the result of medicalisation that includes de-socialization of diseases and explaining social phenomenon in medical terms.
Studies show that there have been differences in treatment of men and women in different areas clinical and academic medicines.
In mainstream biomedical treatment sector, gender is intertwined with biological sex. But gender is wider in connotation than biological sex. In biomedicines life conditions, financial autonomy, positions and influence in society in the lines of masculinity and femininity are to be considered in matters of professional encounters and theorizing medical conditions of men and women. Hence lack of awareness of gender aspects on the part of medical practitioners can lead to gender discrimination in administering biomedical treatment. Differences between men and women as regards investigation and treatment are found by many studies. In treatment of ailments like coronary heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Parkinson’s disease and others investigation and treatment show negative bias for women. On the other hand, negative bias for men is reported in treatment of migraine and depression.
It is also evidenced that apart from gender discrimination in investigation and treatment in biomedicine, gender bias also exists in medical education, career as medical practitioner, and medical research.
Health and Intersectionality
Intersectionality is a feminist concept that focuses on the intersection of different oppressed groups of people. The identities of human beings determined by history and other social relations give rise to their oppression. Some feminist scholars define intersectionality as a process by which social status, race, and gender of people lead to their inferior social status.
Gender identities of human beings are highly responsible in determining vulnerability to health diseases. It is well documented that men are less likely to seek medical advice as compared to women. The reason behind such behaviour is the hegemony of masculinity and the notion that men are stronger than women. Expressing physical or emotional weakness is dichotomous to the concept of masculinity. A study by London School of Economics shows that masculinity cannot fully justify such behavior of men but culture and race also play role in shaping this behaviour.
Gender bias can also be noticed in the services provided by the health service. Research undertaken by World Health Organization shows that doctors are more inclined to treat depression in women than in men. But this cannot be preceded by assumption that men are more prone to depression as compared to women. Women are more prone to depression and men are more likely to encounter substance-abuse problems. World Health Organization opines that women’s vulnerability to social and economic shock places women at risk of depression.
Social Model of Disability
The social model of disability says that disability is created by the structure of society rather than personal impairment. It explores ways of removing barriers for the disabled so that they can live lives equally as able persons. Feminist thinkers have pointed out that social model of disability is open to gender bias. They argue that disabled men and disabled women often enjoy different social status. Many socially disabled feminist writers have long discarded the notion that socially disabled women are doubly oppressed than disabled men because patriarchy and disabilism operate in conjunction.
Disabled people are identified with people without gender. Thus gender has little to do with social disability. But in reality the image of social disability cab be intensified with gender identities like disabled women have a sense of passivity and helplessness where as disabled men can create corrupted masculinity. The images of helplessness and corrupted masculinity have real implications in education, employment, personal relationships, etc. The gender bias of social disability shows sustained patterns of differences between men and women. It is found that more women than men fall in the category of disabled persons. It is so because large proportions of elderly people are elderly women with disabilities. While disabled persons are poor but it is documented that disabled women are poorer than disabled men.
Privatization of Health Care
Rapid privatization of healthcare has resulted in hospitals focusing on the urban educated women with financial means. Overall healthcare services for women remain inferior as compared to that for men. In addition to that corporate healthcare services are more and more privatized in which only urban women are targeted and rural women with severe health issues are neglected by the privatized healthcare sector. Privatization of healthcare services has transformed public institutions to commodity-base institutions. Works have been taken away from professional staff to low-paid casual staff.
Privatization of healthcare services has given rise to new kind of gender discrimination. Women constitute more than 80% of paid and unpaid staff and are also most frequent recipients of healthcare services. Most of the nursing, dietary, and housekeeping staff are women who have lost jobs due to restructuring of healthcare business. As the healthcare services moves from public to private domain, it ceases to remain an insured service.
Privatization is the major part of reform of healthcare services and governments are saving money at the cost of women both as patients as well as service providers. Privatization of healthcare has resulted in fall in access to healthcare for rural women, and reduced income and job opportunities for women in the healthcare sector.







  

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