Sample Women and Gender Studies Essay Paper on Gender-Based Disparities in Sexual Health

Introduction

Sexual health is the general physical, the mental and emotional wellness of individuals concerning their gender variation and orientation. On the other hand, gender-based disparities are the unequal and the unfair distribution of health-related issues of different gender (Astbury 78). Sexuality is the overall inclination of an individual to sexually generated issues like homosexuality, heterosexualism, gay and lesbianism among others. Group of people falling into the category of sexual minority face disparities in the health sector resulting from the complexity of their sexual orientation. In most cases, these people hide their sexuality; therefore, making it difficult to diagnose their problem in time. Additionally, the community largely perceives any orientation other that heterosexuality as abnormal therefore such individuals are alienated from sharing their experiences. Sexual health encompasses the specific health issues that are unique to a particular sexual group; it involves the trends and epidemiology relating to health concern of one group in comparison to the other. Due to the unique and specific demand by a given gender, disparities exist across the different sexual divide. In most cases, the female sex bears the burden of disparities across all the sexuality ranging from discrimination, under-representation, to the quality of services being provided. The composition and mentality of the community on issues to do with sexual health has promoted the existence of gender-based disparities. These variations are affecting the overall well-being of the female gender and therefore reducing the quality of life enjoyed by this group. When addressing the difference, it is essential to evaluate the current situation, and the possible causes of the differences hence determine the best approach to tackle the issue. This paper seeks to analyze gender-based variations that exist between different sexual groups. Sexual minorities are often faced with many challenges in the sexual health sector and the general health field. Additionally, it seeks to establish the causes of the disparities and the agent that propagate the vice with the aim of determining the best approach address the differences.

Causes and Forms of Gender-Based Disparities in Sexual Health

Gender-based disparities in sexual health is a concern that affects the quality of life, mortality rate, and the overall life expectancy experience between genders. Various health issues depict disparities across the different sexualities including; reproductive health, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, body integrity and sexual safety, and sexual attachments. Gender-based disparities in sexual health are caused by practices and cultures which belittle or intimidate women, leading to stigmatization. Additionally, differences are caused by stereotype mentality which does not recognize the importance of providing equal opportunities and representation between genders. Among the reasons for the disparities include Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), cultural norms and beliefs, and gender abuse and violence

Female Mortality and Reproductive Health

Both in developing and developed countries, female mortality is higher that male mortality primarily due to maternity-related mortality. These are deaths caused by complication during birth or the pregnancy period. In Sub-Sahara Africa and India, maternal-related deaths are higher than in any other part of the world owing to the inability by many women to access the right medication. The high rate of pregnancy-related deaths is due to lack of maternity care and proper facilities and personnel to handle childbirth. During childbirth, it is healthy to deliver under the watch of a trained medical officer to ensure the safety of both the mother and the child. Lack accessible delivery facilities and personnel have forced women to have extended lengths of labor with is dangerous to both the mother and the child. Additionally, other complications may result due to poor handling of the situation. In the Sub-Saharan Africa, for instance, fistula is a condition which many women have to live with because of poor handling during childbirth. Further, during birth, many women have contracted contagious diseases some which are life threatening due to unhygienic conditions in the delivery rooms. Many women have contracted tetanus during the process of delivery which may be fatal if not treated in time. Female maternal mortality and reproductive health related issues are further worsened when there is war or calamities like floods, famine, and earthquakes. During these difficult moments, access to health care is a problem, therefore, leaving women at high risk of dying or contracting other diseases. This has caused significant gender disparities in the health sector, and it has degraded the quality of life of affected individuals. Even though men do not suffer directly from these problems, their participation is vital in the implementation of solutions to these problems.

Access to Proper Health Care

In general, men have better access to health care services compared to women, this most dominant in the developing countries. This disparity can be attributed to the level of empowerment which is a factor of both education and employment which leads to exposure. Men are more empowered that women in both developed and developing countries, and are the ones responsible for decision making regarding sexual health. For example, the male sex make vital decisions regarding reproductive health, they make rulings on the use of contraceptives and family planning issues, a decision that should be made by women because they are most affected by these decisions (Dixon-Mueller 271). Due to the uneven distribution of resources and the difference in the level of empowerment, women have lower access to proper sexual health care. Empowerment is a factor that is dependent on the degree of literacy that somebody has about a particular issue and situation. In the health sector, the biggest challenge that faces empowerment are the beliefs and culture that portray some situation in mythical context. Customs of different people have numerous hurdles that have been imposed on women. For example, the Chhaupadi tradition of the Achham community demands that women who are on menstruation must be segregated. This belief requires that the women are locked out in dark rooms or in the cow shade away from other members of the community (Silverman et al. 26). This culture exposes women to unhealthy conditions during the period of menstruation. Further, the culture causes mental and emotional instability during this time. Therefore, to overcome such hurdles, it is important to carry out massive educational empowerment to help change the mentality and beliefs of such people. Additionally, women and girls shy off from medical examinations that may include practitioners examining their private part or even taking images of these parts (Dixon-Mueller 279). Some perceive it as infringement into their privacy and therefore, many women suffer in silence due to fear of having a medical check. This fear is worse when the physician is a man or familiar to the patient. Due to this fear, the quality of life and the sexual health condition of women remain at risk despite numerous intervention and innovation in the health sector.

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an act that involves chopping off of parts or the whole of the female genitalia or modifying the organ by physically manipulating its natural form for non-medical reasons. FGM is practiced by communities as a rite of passage from girlhood to motherhood. This practice has caused gender-based disparities in sexual health and the general living condition of women. FGM is belittling and risky to the victims who suffer great mental torture and emotional instability. FGM is conducted by untrained personnel and therefore increasing health risks that may result from the practice. A study carried out by UNICEF in 2005 indicated that the number of women who lose their lives as a result of female genital mutilation might be high because most of the deaths are not reported. Further, the report indicated that since the tools used to conduct the act are in most cases are not sterilized, there are increased risks of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infection and even HIV. Disturbing statistics by the report indicate that approximately ten to twenty babies born of mothers who have undergone FGM die in every one thousand births. Finally, the report indicated that the risk of neonatal mortality increases due to FGM, which may be as a result of birth-related complications. When female genital mutilation is carried out on young girls, they are sometimes treated as outcasts by peers and schoolmate who are against the cut. It results in frustration and low self-esteem among this group of people hence, affecting the quality of life. Women who have undergone the cut shy off from visiting medical facilities that may require examination of these parts. Most distributing is that when these women want to give birth, they shy away from hospitals due to stigmatization, therefore, exposing themselves to dangerous conditions that may result in death.

Gender-based Violence and Abuse

Women and girls all over the world are faced with challenges regarding violence and abuse from male counterpart who are either known to them or are strange to them. Gender abuse ranges from sexual harassment, rape, to physical and mental persecution or any other acts that are likely to cause physical, mental, or emotional harm. Many communities around the world practice cultures that devalue and subordinate women. Illustratively, the culture perceives women as property after the payment of dowry. The girl child, on the other hand, has not been spared by this vice, they suffer from discrimination, harassment, and abuse from people entrusted with the role to take care of them and those who are supposed to offer them protection. Girls are a higher risk of undergoing sexual abuse than boys at the same age under the same condition. A survey carried out by Shiva et al. (1992), indicated that 25.3% girls surveyed had experienced sexual abuses or violence. The analysis translates to a figure that was 8% higher than that of an equal number of boys surveyed during the same period. Women and girls are vulnerable to gender-based abuse and violence due to their sexual complexion compared to men across all sexualities. Gender-based abuse against women has caused disparities in the health sector; it has resulted in a higher number of women who require psychological assistance due to emotion instability caused by the vice. Additionally, sexual abuse has resulted in unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. Rape is the worst kind of sexual violence against any gender since it has long-term effects on the life of the victims. Rape often leaves the victims with Sexually Transmitted Infections and HIV which results in gender-based disparities in the sexual health sector (Magadi 522). Furthermore, women who have been raped are at risk of developing reproductive health complications while men who commit the act do not face many risks except the danger of diseases. Women who have been physically assaulted by male counterpart also have a poor health experience and are likely to suffer from mental related disorder, examples; withdrawal syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression among others. On the other hand, men who assault these women do not suffer life-threatening complications, hence bringing about the disparities between the genders.

Poverty

Poverty affects both genders, however, women are mostly affected by poverty than the men sex due to the responsibilities and role they play in the society and the existing norms and culture. When conditions get tough, men abandon children and leave the burden of parenthood to mothers who have to bear the weight of bringing up children with limited resources (Shavers 6). Although most communities agree with the view of helping women and girls attain better health and living conditions, poverty is pulling down their efforts, and in the long run, it promotes gender-based disparities. To improve health and living status, people have to get an education, get access to comprehensive health care, and have capital to invest, however, customs and norms in various communities will prioritize men before women in situations where the resources are limited. When the boy-child and men are given priority, the girl-child and women suffer due to their sexuality which makes them appear as second-class human. In the long run, such practices and norm that give men priority to empowerment, education, and opportunities promote disparities in the gender sector (Shavers 28). Women are left with limited education, empowerment, and little financial stability and have to rely on men for upkeep.

War, Instability, and Calamities

Countries that have experienced unrest or are at war show vast disparities in gender-based issues, sexual health and the general health. Women are significantly affected by war and unrest which reduces the quality of life that they lead during the time of war and after the war has ended (Astbury 90). Women are likely to face sexual harassment and rape during the periods. Additionally, they do not get medical attention. Militias sometimes use assault to scare off and inflict pain on their opponents; attackers rape women in full sight of family members including children. Such scenes have a long life impact on the health and stability of victims –sometimes leading to suicide when victims cannot stand memories of such experiences. At the refugee camps where they seek safety, both women and girls are at risk of being sexually abused by security personnel who are supposed to protect them.

Other areas that show sexual health inequality include HIV/AIDS prevalence and epidemiology with women being at a greater danger than men to contract the disease. This is because they have little control over the use of protection even in consensual intercourse. In Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing, gender disparities in HIV prevalence is dominant (Magadi 525). Additionally, the female sex is prone to stigmatization compared to their male counterparts and therefore, many women who are infected with the virus do not seek medication due to stigmatization and the fear of being misinterpreted for being adulterous. On the other hand, mental health shows vast gender disparity with women being at the receiving end of mental instability, emotional disorder, and other mental related situations. This is mainly attributed to the kind of family, the society and the state of the environment that they are exposed to, the condition includes; gender-based violence and harassment.

Measures and Effort to Eradicate Gender-based Disparities

To eradicate gender-based inequalities, vibrant education and empowerment are required to raise awareness on the negative impacts while also stating the importance having a gender-conscious society. The education should be aimed at addressing norms and cultures that propagate gender inequality, however, while addressing issues regarding culture, care must be taken to ensure the message is clear and not controversial to the belief of the people (Shavers 37). Further, women and girls and other minority sexuality must be educated on their rights and responsibilities regarding gender issues.

Access to quality affordable health care should also be facilitated by insisting on the importance of having a comprehensive medical cover since it is cheap in the long run. Having medical cover will ensure that everyone has access to the right medication without fear of its cost; therefore, providing an improved quality of life.

Conclusion

In conclusion, gender-based disparities in sexual health is still a grim reality in the twenty-first century, despite efforts that have been put in place to combat the inequality. Stereotyped mindsets of individuals is one of the reasons that this difference continues to exist and also why eradicating the vice is quite difficult. On the other hand, poverty, cultural practices, norms, and beliefs are also propagating this inequality across all the sexuality. The disparities are evident in the access to medical and health care, whereby women have lower access to quality and timely health care. Unfortunate events like war, instability, and calamities also play a central role in propagating gender inequality. In a nutshell, gender inequality has put in danger the lives of many women around the globe and it has also degraded the quality of life between the genders. To eradicate gender-based inequalities, vibrant education and empowerment are required to raise awareness on the negative impacts while also stating the advantages of having a gender-conscious society. Further, women and girls and other minority sexuality must be educated on their rights and responsibilities regarding gender issues. To this end, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the effort to attaining a gender-conscious society and eradicating gender-related disparities.

Works Cited

Astbury, Jill. “Gender Disparities in Mental Health.” (2001): 73-92.

Dixon-Mueller, Ruth. “The Sexuality Connection in Reproductive Health.”Studies in Family Planning (1993): 269-282.

Magadi, Monica Akinyi. “Understanding the Gender Disparity in HIV Infection across Countries in Sub‐Saharan Africa: Evidence from the Demographic and Health Surveys.” Sociology of Health & Illness 33.4 (2011): 522-539.

Shavers, Vickie L. “Measurement of Socioeconomic Status in Health Disparities Research.” Journal of the National Medical Association 99.9 (2007): 1013.

Shiva, Mira, Omita Goyal, and Poonam Krishnan. “Women and Health.” Health for the Millions 18.1 (1992).

Silverman, Jay G., et al. “Gender-based Disparities in Infant and Child Mortality based on Maternal Exposure to Spousal Violence: The Heavy burden Borne by Indian Girls.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 165.1 (2011): 22-27.

Unicef. “Female Genital Mutilation/Female Genital Cutting: A Statistical Report.” (2005).