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ROLE OF GENDER IN RELATION TO HEALTH.

Definition of gender
This is the socially constructedroles and responsibilities assigned by society to men, women,
boys and girls and the relationships between men and women, boys and girls in a given culture,
setting.
This changes over time, from birth, childhood, puberty and adult life. This is also reflected in the
impact
This is related on how men and women are perceived and how they perceive themselves, how
they are expected to think or behave because of the way society is organized and because of the
biological differences.
Health
State of well-being:-physical, mental and psychological and not merely absence of disease.
Gender issues that relate to health
1. Education
2.Marriage
3.Fertility and family planning

4.Contraceptive use
5.HIV/ AIDS as a gender issue
6.Physical violence as a gender issue
7.Sexual violence as a gender issue.
Gender issues and Health.
1. Education:
Women are less educated than men.
(i) Comparative lack of education limits access to opportunities for employment, choices and
exercise of rights.
(ii) Lack of education leads to;
Poverty
ill health
poor access to health services
Lack of participation in decision-making (ignorance and lack of financial resources)
Lack of information.
2. Marriage
Men marry later than women. This gives them a comparative advantage in terms of access to:
(i) Information
(ii) Education
(iii) Better jobs
Therefore better bargaining power than women counterparts who get married early particularly in
decision making

3. Fertility and family planning


(a)Gender differences are among the many influences of
child birth patterns (where to give birth)
numbers of children,
contraceptive use,
fertility preferences: men seem to want more children than women.
4. Contraceptive use thought to be a womens issue.
Access by women-Decision
-Resources
Access by men:
(i) Most methods are female related
(ii) Access to services Health systems are usually female oriented.
5. HIV/ AIDS as a gender issue
Women have less individual choices in sexual relationships they are expected to be submissive)
Women lack ability to protect themselves (male condom use)
6. Physical violence as a gender issue
Studies done show that women get affected by physical violence more often than men
Perpetuatorsin women are most often intimate partners

Married women are more likely to experience violence than unmarried


7. Sexual violence as a gender issue
4:10 women experience sexual violence compared to 1: 10 men
Commonest among women divorced, separated and married
A 1/4 of women their first sexual encounter is forced.
Few men experience emotional violence from wives
Health Implications
1.Physical trauma
2.Psychological trauma/stress.
3.Social implications
4.Sexual Reproductive Health Implications (Rape and Defilement)
5.Implications for HIV/ AIDS
6.Violence in pregnancy Women
7.Family planning implications
Health Implications
1.Physical trauma such as injury causes victims to feel a high level of fear (Tjaden&Thoennes,
2000).

2.Psychological trauma/stress. This occurs with all forms of violence. It is associated with
humiliation (Garcia-moreno et al., 2005)
3.Social implications though the effects may take longer to manifest e.g remarrying, have
extramarital relations, child abuse and care
4. Sexual Reproductive Health Implications
i). Rape and Defilement;
a) STIs including HIV infections
b) Tears and lacerations of the genital tract that may require surgery for repair and its associated
complications, bleeding, infection
c) Psychological trauma of the experience; anxiety, depression, fear sex thereafter as they
associate it with the experience
ii). Pregnancy
a) From unknown father
b) Unwanted/ unplanned
c) Unsafe abortion and associated complications, infection, trauma to the genital tract including
perforation of the uterus may be taken out, girl remains infertile for life-can die. Death of the
affected from the acts, intentional murder (Heise et al., 1999; Guedes, 2004) Krug et al., 2002)
5. Implications for HIV/ AIDS
Lack of disclosure resulting in infecting partner, MTCT
Violence resulting in separation, physical trauma, psychological trauma through stigmatization,
segregation.
Forced sex (Jansen et al., 2002)

Refusal to use safer sex means because they are either threatened, or are exploited and cannot
insist on use of condoms.
6. Violence in pregnant Women
Abortion
Intrauterine death of the fetus as result of placental separation
Premature birth -resulting in poor survival, later in life may result in poor intellectual
performance
Premature labour and delivery
Induced abortion results death and related adverse health effects
7. Family planning implications
Refusal of women to use contraceptives
Physical and Psychological trauma/stress
Unwanted pregnancy
Induced abortion
Maternal death
How sex of an individual affect health outcomes.
Smoking (nicotine)

a) Male smokers suffer reduced fertility and potency while female smokers suffer, low birth
weight, early menopause, and cardio vascular Diseases
HIV-Females are more vulnerable
a) Due to larger surface area exposed during sexual intercourse
b) Due to friction and possible bruises that enhance transmission
How Gender may affect health Outcomes.
Adolescent girls may be very conscious of their bodies leading to extreme slimming resulting in
menstrual complications, ovarian failure etc.
Inadequate cooking facilities expose women to higher risk of respiratory infection
High risk behavior among driving men than women.
Gender Gaps
More male involvement in health matters
Health facilities that are male friendly
Timing of services to suit every one.
Health workers appreciation between men and women
The less assertiveness of women while men rarely admit ignorance
Supportive environment for men to fight gender violence
IEC materials for men
Specific services for men

Community activities for mens health


Understanding of men by health professionals
Conclusions
Gender has a critical role in the promotion or hinders good health
Communities and health professionals need to be aware of the differencesin response to various
situations by different sexes
There is need to address the inequities created as a result of ones sex and the gender roles,
responsibilities, biases as well as services provided.