Dissecting the Glaring Gender Gap in Healthcare in India
By: WE Staff
The Gender Gap in Healthcare in India remains a persistent problem that needs to be addressed on priority. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, India ranks 140th out of 156 countries in terms of gender equality, indicating glaring disparities in health, education, economic participation, and political empowerment. It is a matter of concern that has an impact on women's access to high-quality medical care and their general health outcomes. Social, cultural, economic, and systematic barriers are the few main factors that become a major cause of this gap. Comprehensive approaches that address societal norms, enhance the healthcare infrastructure, raise awareness, and also guarantee women's empowerment and participation in the decision-making processes are vastly needed to eradicate the gender gap.
What is the Gender Gap in Healthcare?
The gender gap in healthcare refers to a person's gender-based unequal access to and treatment within healthcare systems. It encompasses a number of factors such as gender bias in healthcare institutions, access to healthcare services, healthcare utilization rates, and disparities in health outcomes.
The National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) reveals that only 51 per cent of pregnant women in India receive full antenatal care, reflecting the gaps in accessing essential maternal healthcare services. The reports show the alarming situation that women face due to the disparities in their health with increasing rates of morbidity and mortality and historically women have to deal with a disproportionate amount of health inequality. There are many factors behind this practice like the structured patriarchal society that has been produced by a variety of cultural ideologies and customs where women are particularly mistreated. They frequently face a lot of barriers to access equal opportunities like paid leaves at workplaces and educational institutions.
Why is this a Major Concern?
The gender gap in healthcare is a matter of great concern for several reasons such as health disparities which are unequal access to healthcare and gender biases resulting in disparities in health outcomes. Women face higher risks of maternal mortality, limited access to reproductive healthcare services, and increased prevalence of preventable diseases, leading to compromised overall well-being. According to the Sample Registration System Bulletin 2018, the maternal mortality ratio in India is 113 deaths per 100,000 live births, significantly higher than the global average, and in India, it has declined over the years to 97 in 2018-20 from 103 in 2017-19 and 130 in 2014-2016.
Gender inequality in healthcare hampers women's economic empowerment. Ill health can limit women's educational opportunities, hinder their workforce participation, and impede their ability to contribute effectively to economic development, perpetuating a cycle of poverty. Addressing the gender gap in healthcare is crucial for achieving gender equality and social justice. Promoting equal access to healthcare services ensures the well-being of women, thereby strengthening families, communities, and society as a whole.
Aspects of the Gender Gap in Healthcare in India:
Limited access to healthcare: Women in India face multiple barriers to accessing healthcare, including geographical constraints, cultural norms, lack of transportation, and financial constraints. This particularly affects women in rural areas and marginalized communities, worsening the gender gap.
Gender biases in healthcare: Gender biases within the healthcare system contribute to disparities in healthcare provision. Women's health concerns are often neglected or downplayed, leading to underdiagnosis and undertreatment of conditions specific to women. Additionally, cultural biases can affect the quality and timeliness of care provided to women.
Maternal and reproductive health challenges: India continues to struggle with high maternal mortality rates. Limited access to quality care, inadequate family planning services, and the persistence of harmful practices such as child marriages contribute to the gender gap in maternal and reproductive health.
The gender gap in healthcare in India is a critical issue that needs immediate action. By addressing barriers to healthcare access, promoting gender-sensitive healthcare policies, combating gender biases within healthcare systems, and enhancing reproductive and maternal healthcare services, India can strive towards a more equitable and inclusive healthcare system. Bridging the gender gap in healthcare will not only improve women's health outcomes but also foster social progress and economic development for the nation as a whole.