How gender discrimination impacts world health

There is an increasing concern in the last decade that gender plays role in discrimination wherein males and females are treated in different ways. This situation becomes much more complicated when ethnicity is strongly associated with gender discrimination. In particular instance, females of a specific ethnic group experience at least two forms of discrimination based of her race, gender, religious belief, age and social status. The term racism is strongly associated with hatred and prejudice of an individual’s identity including any aspects of his identity and sexual orientation hence females experience a different manner of discrimination.

International groups such as the United Nations have regarded racial and gender discrimination as two independent issues resulting in females continuing to suffer from numerous types of injustices. It is thus essential that the gender component of racial discrimination be well understood in order to draw actions towards racial discrimination that are helpful to both males and females. There are several instances when the issues of gender discrimination, interconnected with racial prejudice, impacts world health (Crenshaw KW, 2000).

The interplay of these two concepts may take different modes and arise in different circumstances. One situation involves gender discrimination against women from obtaining healthcare services. It has been reported that in particular countries that show gender discrimination, women were observed to show a strikingly high rate of HIV/AIDS than women from countries that do not experience gender discrimination (EGM, 2000).. This health problem tends to get worse in particular societies that treat women as powerless individuals who have no control of their bodies and sexual activities.

In these societies, these HIV/AIDS diagnosed women are also blamed for spreading the disease to other individuals and they are also ostracized from the rest of the society. The interplay of gender discrimination and world health can also be observed in situations that involve mandatory sterilization and other forced birth control procedures. Women of particular ethnic groups are pressured to undergo sterilization. There are even times when a monetary incentive is given to these women in order to entice them to undergo sterilization.

Sadly, these targeted women are often misinformed with regards to the results and effects of these reproductive technologies that are being tested on them. Another linkage between gender discrimination and world health can be seen in the disparity with regards to rates of maternal and child death. It has been observed that women from underdeveloped areas and countries experience higher mortality rates because they have insufficient healthcare services. The privatization of healthcare has also influenced the further decline of these women’s access to healthcare services.

In terms of prescription drug availability, women from underprivileged areas and countries generally could not afford the high prices of medications for particular diseases hence they end up being untreated and even die from lack of medical attention. Another situation involving the interplay of gender discrimination and world health is the gender-based violence such as physical and mental abuse (CEDAW, 2000). In this situation, females are more likely to experience more cases of violence because discrimination that is influenced by gender depicts females as the most defenseless elements of society.

Inclusion of the concept of racial discrimination thus generates violence on females, making them twice at risk of violence. These kinds of circumstances tend to be more difficult because certain women from remote areas may be hesitant in reporting any violent incidents that they have experienced because they are concerned that no action will be performed with regards to their report or that their statement will be received with indifference or hostility. Certain members of the state may even disregard any reports of such type of violence for fear of being disgraced.

It is unfortunate to know that in particular societies that follow a specific culture or religious tradition, gender-based violence is accepted by society. Any individuals who oppose such practices are usually charged for attempting to introduce Western culture to their traditional beliefs. There are other countries that treat gender-based violence as a ground for putting an individual in an asylum. In the case of women who relocate to a foreign country due to fear of domestic violence, these women opt not to report the abuse due to fear that their residency status in that particular country will be affected.

This situation is further complicated if the woman’s condition in the foreign country is classified as the dependent of his abusive husband. Certain countries award immigration option to women who could unquestionably prove that they are victims of domestic violence, yet the criteria for substantial evidence is extremely stringent, often times requiring presentation of a police conviction or court order. Another situation wherein gender, interconnected with racial discrimination, impact world health can be observed among impoverished women. It has been estimated that approximately 1.

3 billion individuals who are living in extreme need are women (UNDP, 2000). Such condition is strongly related to their inability to receive any form of education as well as training courses hence rendering them under-qualified for most of the available employment. Simultaneously, the trends of globalization and alteration in governmental laws have resulted in more problems for women because gender inequalities were exposed. One example can be observed among governments that do not provide unemployment insurance of single mothers or female heads of households.

The merged effect of gender and racial discrimination may also hinder the retrieval of women to economic resources, including loans, credit and real estate property and can also affect the treatment they receive when they request for social services from the government. Such hardship thus endangers women to poverty and financial hardship. Gender is also intertwined with the issue of racial discrimination in terms of education, which in turn impacts world health (Sullivan, 1999).

It has been discovered that the global literacy rate for women is significantly lower than that among men. The discrepancy in literacy rate between men and women is even greater in developing countries. More than half of out-of-school children are girls and that among illiterate adults, two-thirds are comprised by women. These gender-based illiteracy reports show that females have less access to educational resources which in turn results in a lower rate of participation in training programs.

Such decrease in education restrains females in their full understanding and awareness of their legal rights, including the right to be employed and to own real estate properties (CHR, 2000). The access of females to education through attendance in school is also affected by circumstances of early pregnancy, childrearing and domestic family responsibilities. The lack or insufficiency of knowledge on reproductive health among women due to poor access to educational resources further hampers the living conditions of women.

It is well-known that education is strongly correlated with employment options and financial stability, hence women are at a disadvantage with regards to availing such opportunities. Another situation wherein gender discrimination impacts world health is in the labor market. There is prejudice in particular labor practices wherein women in poorly developed areas or countries are restricted from equal chances of gaining employment. The situation becomes more complicated when these women come from a specific racial or indigenous group that is constantly being treated with prejudice.

Now in order for these women to gain a living, they then opt to work in informal sectors which are not so strict with regards to race and gender. Unfortunately, these informal sectors are generally characterized by destitute working conditions, as well as provide minimum to no social protection and very small wages. This situation thus results in minority women being categorized as the lowest of the labor group. In addition, informal labor sectors do not have strict laws with regards to employment hence the rates of abuse and violence is high.

Women working in the informal labor sectors thus usually have poor physical conditions and are generally sick, either physically or mentally. In other situations, women migrate to another country to work as a domestic helper and are assigned to a specific employer. A domestic helper is expected to live in the residence of her employer but once the contract expires and the employer did not plan on renewing her contract, or when the employer was not satisfied with the performance of the domestic helper, she is immediately asked to leave the residence and the individual ends up homeless.

This condition of living on the streets has a great chance of making a woman sick from exposure to the cold and from insufficient food and water. It has been reported that cases of firing or termination of contract of female domestic helpers has influenced world health. There are also cases wherein the female migrant domestic helper attempts to return to her home country but once she returns home, she is either very sick or already dead.

Gender discrimination alongside world health is also depicted in situations wherein women are involved in armed conflict wherein specific ethnic groups are involved in violent incidents such as rape, sexual abuse, sexual slavery and other serious human rights violations (GRDRD, 2000). In these situations, women are particularly targeted because of their gender and their race also plays a strong influence of its incidence. Violence against these particular women is usually performed as a strategy in war that is aimed to destroy the morale of the targeted community.

This can be observed from conflicts in Bosnia, East Timor and Kosovo. The members of the other party in the conflict forcefully impregnate the women of the opposing group in order to dishonor them. In other cases, women are mutilated in order to deprive them of their capability to bring forth more children. Thus gender has been employed as a tool for persecution during conflicts between ethnic groups. After a conflict, the women who have been targeted have to go through problems of unwanted pregnancy as well as guilt and stigma.

Other women experience post-traumatic stress disorder or are simply ostracized from their own society. It is sad to know that these women often could not receive any medical attention due to the poor conditions of their area as well as their lack of access for communication to other countries in order to ask for help. These examples of gender-based situations, alongside racial discrimination is a serious issue among women because it ultimately affects their way of living as well as options with regards to how they could live their lives.

It is therefore imperative that efforts towards banishing gender-based situations so that women can receive fair treatment and choices in their lives.

References Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Report to the General Assembly, 55th session, 1 May 2000 (A/55/38); and Contribution of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to the preparatory process and the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, 29 January 2001 (CEDAW/C/2001/ I/CRP. 3/Add. 9).

Commission on Human Rights (2000): Resolution 2000/13 on Women’s equal ownership of, access to and control over land and the equal rights to own property and to adequate housing, 17 April 2000 (E/CN. 4/RES/2000/13) and (E/CN. 4/RES/2001/34), 20 April 2001. Crenshaw KW (2000): Gender-related aspects of race discrimination, background paper for Expert Meeting on Gender and Racial Discrimination, 21-24 Novem-ber 2000, Zagreb, Croatia (EM/GRD/ 2000/WP. 1). Expert Group Meeting, 13-17 November 2000, Windhoek, Namibia, The HIV/AIDS pandemic and its implications, report of the meeting (EGM/HIVAIDS/2000/Rep.1).

Gender Related Dimensions of Racial Discrimination, CERD Recommendation 25 (General Comments), 20 March 2000 (CERD/C/56/Misc. 21/Rev. 3). Sullivan D (1999): Trends in the Integration of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Analysis in the Activities of the Special Mechanisms, in Gender Integration into the Human Rights System: Report of the Workshop, 26 – 28 May 1999 (E/CN. 4/2000/INFORMAL/). United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (2000): Poverty Report 2000: Overcoming Human Poverty.

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