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International Women’s Day and Health Care Inequality

The 8th of March is International Women’s Day.

It’s an important day, and not because men aren’t important, but because females around the world still face many barriers that males do not.

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Here are some quick facts for you:

  • Women do not earn as much money as men, in the same role. This is known as the gender pay gap.
  • 62 million girls around the world are denied an education because of their gender.
  • Female Genital Mutilation (more “nicely” known as female circumcision) affects over 200 million females in at least 30 different countries. Where it is illegal, girls might be flown to other countries to have it done, or have it done to them illegally, in dangerous, unsanitary conditions.
  • Women are more likely to be victims of human trafficking, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault then men.
  • Females have also been historically not allowed to go into certain career paths, particularly in the STEM fields, and in politics. Whilst in the Western world, this is changing, there are still a lot attitude issues that prevent females from being fully equal.

Another important issue that we should talk about on International Women’s Day, is the fact that many chronic diseases affect females disproportionately more than males.

There are several reasons why females might end up being diagnosed with chronic conditions more than males.

One are the biological differences between the sexes. Hormonal differences, or other differences in the genetic makeup of the sexes, could hold the clue as to why men are less likely to get ill than women.

Researchers are now also theorising that cultural and social elements might also affect how chronic disease impacts each gender.

Females have historically been treated differently at the doctors. Men and women voice their complaints in a different way, and are perceived differently. Studies have shown that females often don’t receive the same amount of pain medication as men, and doctors undertreat heart attacks in women as well.

Females are used to their legitimate medical complaints being written off as them simply being “depressed” or “anxious.” In the past, women were told they had hysteria.

There are other issues too, such as the fact that many meds, like statins, are mostly tested on men, even though they are very common drugs to be prescribed to women.

Additionally, not to undermine the stresses placed on men in society, but in many societies, women have the burden of raising the children, cooking, cleaning, and sometimes even working on top of all of that. The extra pressure that society has historically placed on women can add stress and anxiety, which might trigger flares, or mental health issues.

There are also plenty of female only health concerns, like severe menstrual symptoms, breast pain, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Many of these can cause horrific pain, and a whole host of other disabling symptoms.

Pregnancy and maternal health care can also bring its own problems. Prior to modern medical advances, it wasn’t uncommon for women and babies to die in childbirth. Unfortunately, this still happens in many places around the world with traumatic births, or where maternal care is neglected.

After giving birth, women are vulnerable to postnatal depression or anxiety.

Females certainly face a lot of barriers socially, politically, economically, and with their health.

There’s more of a chance that we will end up with a chronic disease, and when we do, there are sadly barriers to receiving equal health care.

That’s why it’s important to have days like International Women’s Day, to help raise awareness and fight against these inequalities.

Sources:

21 Facts About Gender Inequality You Need to Know Now

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence- Statistics

Chronic Disease: What do Sex and Gender Have to do with it?

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