Women's health inequality has been an issue developing under the radar for quite some time, but in recent years it has become a more prevalent topic of discussion both among healthcare professionals and the general public. The stigma surrounding the issue is what makes it so difficult to tackle. Often patients that have braved the GP surgery are being turned away from male doctors and pointed in the direction of a female nurse with the basic assumption that they are more equipped to help simply because they share a gender. The root of this problem can be argued as a direct result of lack of training, as well as the common misconception that anything involving a woman's body is shameful or taboo.
This issue of inequality in healthcare has been gaining traction for a long time and although we are moving at a very slow pace, change is being made.
We are starting to see light being shed on the importance of effectively tackling common health needs for women and the impact many of these issues can have on a woman's day to day life both physically and mentally. In fact, back in 2018, the Chair of the Royal College of GPs said:
“Reproductive health conditions affect the women’s health and emotional wellbeing on a daily basis and can range in severity in terms of the impact their condition has on their everyday life.”
Women's health inequality is the disparity between women and men in regards to health. This can be due to a number of factors such as:
- Women’s lack of autonomy and decision making power
- The gendered division of labour
- Gender biases in education
- Gender biases in employment
- Social norms that dictate the appropriate behaviour for women versus men, including dress codes, pregnant bodies, or body image expectations
The World Health Organization now sees women's health as a human rights issue, and such inequality is at the core of it.
“National governments and the global community need to do better together to support and enable women and girls to enjoy their health and fulfil their rights.” -Ian Askew, Director, World Health Organization (WHO) Department of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research, including the United Nations Special Programme HRP.
If we are not able to break the stigma, and offer adequate training for aspiring healthcare professionals, we are then faced with the continuation of half of the world's population unable or embarrassed to receive adequate treatment for common and treatable issues.
What does the future hold for women's health?
Thankfully, there have been recent strides towards shining a light on this gap in the medical field, with Scotland at the forefront of this revolution.
Scotland recently announced they would provide free sanitary products for women and has the opportunity to lead by example offering a more progressive and inclusive medical education system.
As the only country in the UK with its own curriculum for medical education, Scottish law makers can ensure that future doctors are educated about women's health without stigma or bias.
We have also seen increased awareness around breast cancer, endometriosis, infertility, and menopause, with many of these topics being discussed through the media and resource campaigns launched through social channels.
Healthcare professionals wishing to expand their knowledge on this extremely important topic and offer an increased level of care to their patients can be time poor and therefore find it difficult to take on a qualification whilst working for increasingly stretched healthcare systems.
At Learna, we offer online, part time Postgraduate Diploma and MSc courses in Women’s Health, led by experts with global knowledge and experience dealing with women’s health. Our unique online Postgraduate Diploma in Women's Health and MSc in Women's Health is specially developed for busy health professionals and is practical and clinically focused. It will give you a better understanding of women's health, allowing you to apply your knowledge to your clinical practice.
Our self directed learning platform means no lectures, no seminars and complete flexibility to study when and where you want to. With competitive prices and an option to pay in interest free instalments, we are on a mission to improve healthcare worldwide through accessible and affordable education.
To find out more about our courses for Women’s Health visit learna.ac.uk.
You can also view our webinar “Gender inequality in healthcare: How can we lessen the stigma surrounding women's health?” put together with our Women’s Health Programme Leaders Alison Fiander and Janet Evans.