Gender Equality and medicine in the 21st Century: we want the fair share

Tedros WHO

Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2017)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Ms Julia Puaschunder, a 5th year medical student at the Medical University of Innsbruck Austria, and currently part of the Extended Executive Board at the Austrian Medical Students’ Association. Ms Puaschunder is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

If I’m asked, when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court, I say, ‚When there are nine.‘ People are shocked – but there’ve been nine men, like forever, and nobody’s ever raised their eyebrows at that.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court Justice

Some people might think that raising awareness on gender inequality in Europe is complaining from a very privileged position. Women in Europe have the right to vote, to seek education and to work. Women can dress how they want to and say what they want to. But do we have the right to ask for more?

The recent release of the Gender Equality Index revealed the most obvious issues women face in Europe nowadays: When it comes to power in politics, economics or at the work place, as in the share of ministers or the share of members of boards, women are still underrepresented even though women seek higher education and have better qualifications than a decade ago. For years already, there are more female medical students than male medical students in Austria, yet female chief physicians are and will be a rarity. It shows that a female quota should not be a taboo word anymore. The female quota should be viewed as a stepping-stone to help qualified women to get their seat at the table. It takes politicians – female and male – to take a stand and ensure equality. Women deserve more than symbolic speeches and gender-neutral language. Women want their fair share.

The Index also shed light upon inequalities that women must face day-to-day. Women still have to tackle a lot more in their daily life than men- household, cooking, caring for their children, are still mostly female tasks. Female doctors often need to work half-time to be able to master those challenges. This issue is probably the most difficult to combat.  Indeed, there can’t be a law, forcing men to do laundry. But what there can be, is men living by example – husbands taking chores off of their wives’ shoulders, fathers teaching their sons how to support women and treat them with respect. There will never be full gender equality, if only half of the population is fighting for it.

Sexism, not only at the work place, is an extremely disregarded issue, particularly in conservative countries, where it seems to be socially acceptable to reduce women to their bodies. Especially female doctors must work twice as hard to gain respect from their male co-workers. I myself lost count on how many times a doctor referred to me as the “pretty young lady”, while referring to the male medical students as “colleagues”. It takes a support system of politicians, employers, husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends and colleagues to ensure that sexism is unacceptable in today’s Europe.

Yes, we have come a long way. But there is still a large gap between gender equality on paper that so many strong women fought for in the past, and the challenges women must face in the real world. So yes, we do have the right to ask for more. And yes, we do have the right to get it.

Reference:

http://eige.europa.eu/gender-equality-index

About the author

I am a 5th year medical student at the Medical University of Innsbruck Austria, and currently part of the Extended Executive Board at the Austrian Medical Students’ Association. I have strong interests in Public Health and Sexual and Reproductive Health and I am involved in several activities regarding those topics at my University. I truly believe that this world would be a better place with more women in politics and leadership positions.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Key Brazilian border crossing for Venezuela refugees reopens as asylum numbers pass last year’s total

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

Combat against devastating effects of tobacco can only be won ‘if the UN stands united’ – UN health official

Mental health: privilege in coronavirus times

EU and Georgia sign Financing Agreements for COVID-19 Recovery worth €129 million

Cambodia’s schools are the new frontline in the battle against climate change

Our idea of what makes a company successful needs to change. And it starts with making waste expensive

State aid: Commission approves support for six offshore wind farms in France

DR Congo Ebola centre attacks could force retreat against the deadly disease, warns UN health chief

Mental health: simple ideas that can make a difference

Mental health at stake: A silent epidemic of 21st century

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

Facebook wins EU approval for WhatsApp acquisition; just a sign of the times

What Mary Poppins teaches us about behavioural economics

COP24: Paris agreement remained alive but fragile while the EU attempts to slow down CO2 emissions for new cars

How do we really feel about women leaders?

Norway initiates WTO dispute complaint against US steel, aluminium duties

Mali facing ‘alarming’ rise in rights violations, warns UN expert

How to change the world at Davos

Eurostat confirms a dangerously fast falling inflation in Eurozone

What cryptocurrencies will do to the integrity of politics

Europe is ready to engage, von der Leyen tells annual EU Ambassadors’ Conference

Climate change and health – can medical students be the solution?

Why Europe’s high productive performance is discredited?

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

French full-body veil ban, violated women’s freedom of religion: UN Human Rights Committee

What does leadership mean in an age of perpetual change?

Medical Front liners Need Not To Be Called Heroes; They Need Emotional Stability By Giving Them Proper Support

EU officially launches its first naval mission against migrant smugglers

5 things to know about African migration

European Commission increases support for the EU’s beekeeping sector

Huawei answers allegations about its selling prices

The influence of the multilateral agreement on migrant health

AI can be a game-changer for the world’s forests. Here’s how

The future looks bright for solar energy

Protecting Health Workers’ Safety Around the World

This billion-dollar campaign wants to protect 30% of the planet by 2030

‘Time is of the essence’ for refugees on Greek islands – UN agency

Terror attacks strike people ‘from all walks of life, the UN included’

Using CO2 as an industrial feedstock could change the world. Here’s how

Norway is known for its cold weather – but it’s been in the grip of a severe heatwave

Commission launches new tool to support digital teaching and learning in schools

Young people are not a nameless, faceless mass. So why do we treat them as such?

Victim-centred laws ‘paramount’ to combat online sexual abuse against children

Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

Asia’s plastic problem is choking the world’s oceans. Here’s how to fix it

How to describe chronic pain beyond numbers? A Brazilian measuring instrument

How oysters are cleaning New York’s polluted harbor

Is Germany’s political landscape becoming a breeding ground for extremism?

Workplace risks: Final vote on protection from carcinogens, including diesel fumes

Antitrust: Commission adopts guidance for national courts when handling disclosure of confidential information

Investing in new energy infrastructure: Green light for EU grants worth nearly €1 billion

These are the countries where most adults still don’t have a smartphone

What if Trump wins the November election and Renzi loses the December referendum?

Canada has the most comprehensive and elaborate migration system, but some challenges remain

How digital remittances can help drive sustainable development

Meeting of top scientists underway to slow coronavirus spread

Meet the man who drove from the Netherlands to Australia without visiting a gas station

Kenya wants to run entirely on green energy by 2020

‘Foreign children’ in overwhelmed Syrian camp need urgent international help, says top UN official

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s