The economic, social, political, and cultural characteristics and opportunities specific to being a woman or a man are referred to as gender. Different cultures have different ideas about what it means to be a woman or a man, and these ideas evolve with time. In terms of sex and sexuality, gender is the social expression of specific traits and roles that are assigned to distinct groups of people. People are treated unequally as a result of gender, which also interacts with other social and economic disparities. Other forms of discrimination, including those based on ethnicity, socioeconomic status, handicap, age, place of residence, gender identity, and sexual orientation, are interconnected with gender-based discrimination.
Sex, which refers to the diverse biological and physiological traits of men, females, and transgender people, and gender, which are related but distinct from one another, as well as chromosomes, hormones, and reproductive organs in transgender and intersex people. Despite being closely related, gender and sex are not the same as gender identity. A person’s idea of their own gender is known as gender identity. A person’s gender identification may agree or disagree with their assigned sex. Most people’s gender identities and the numerous biological factors of sex are compatible with one another. The majority of the time, a person’s gender expression matches their gender identification, however this is not always the case. The manifestation of behaviors, attitudes, and appearances that are typical of a particular gender role does not always represent the gender identification of the person expressing them.
People’s access to and experiences with healthcare are influenced by their gender. A person’s access to healthcare information, support, and services, as well as the results of those encounters, can be limited or improved depending on how those services are organized and delivered. Like every other government in the world, the federal government has always argued that health care should be offered with quality, equity, and dignity while remaining inexpensive, accessible, and acceptable to all.
Women and girls have long been at persistent risk for poor health and wellbeing due to the difficulties of gender inequality, discrimination, and other associated issues. Access to health information and services around the world is always hampered more for women and girls than for men and boys. Mobility restrictions, lack of access to decision-making power, lower literacy rates, discriminatory attitudes of communities and healthcare providers toward the needs of women and adolescent girls, and a lack of education and awareness among healthcare service providers and health systems regarding the unique health needs and challenges of women and girls are some of these barriers.
Since women and girls are more likely to become pregnant unintentionally, contract sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, develop cervical cancer, and suffer from malnutrition, lower vision, respiratory infections, and other illnesses, it is important to be aware of these hazards. Female genital mutilation, child, early, and forced marriage, as well as other harmful practices, pose a serious threat to women and girls. Women and girls also experience abnormally high rates of gender-based violence that is rooted in gender inequality. According to data from a World Health Organization (WHO) survey, one in three women worldwide had ever been the victim of non-romantic sexual assault or intimate partner abuse. It is urgent to take action because of this.
The health and wellness of boys and men have been significantly impacted by harmful gender norms and practices, such as those connected to inflexible ideas of masculinity. For instance, a false notion of masculinity may motivate boys and men to smoke, engage in risky sexual behavior, abuse alcohol, and refrain from seeking medical attention. The violence that boys and men commit and experience as a result of these gender norms is likewise a result of these norms. Their mental health is also severely impacted by them. Rigid gender standards also harm those who identify as people of different genders, who frequently experience violence, stigma, and discrimination as a result, especially in hospital settings. They are consequently more vulnerable to mental health issues like suicide as well as HIV.
Samuel Julius is Programme Officer, Centre for Social Justice