The Fight for Women’s Rights

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Jainil Devani, a First Year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. 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.


Women’s Rights and Equality is a battle that has been fought for centuries. Once relegated to being second-class citizens and treated like a possession, Women have fought for and struggled to reach their place alongside men. Society has come a long way in this progress, yet as we step into a new decade, women still face a systemic oppression, on the backdrop of a toxic, patriarchal society.

Medicine comes forward as a unique profession in that, it not only offers a cure to the patient, it heals. And “healing” is a multifold phenomenon. Healthcare is omnipresent: it coincides with every individual’s life, and forms a pillar of the society as a whole. In this polarised climate, doctors and even Medical Students have an imperative part, an integral role to play in social battles, including that of furthering and establishing Women’s Rights.

A self-sufficient modern outlook of an apparent utopia often disguises reality. It is easy to forget the struggles of the unprivileged when one lives a life far detached from ground reality. The progress Women’s rights have made in developed communities (which is still lacking) does not reflect actual situations. The concept of equality is still nascent in rural areas and conservative families.

Female foeticide is still present in orthodox communities. Recent studies indicate there is still a stark difference between access to food, healthcare, immunisations between male and female children. Girls are still treated like ‘liabilities,’ married off underage. The Dowry system is not a thing of the past, it still exists, either bluntly or camouflaged.

A simple understanding and awareness of what is happening outside a fragile protected bubble of thought, goes a long way. Medical Students can organise programs with the help of several associations and educate people on the sexism that still plagues women in these orthodox ideals.

They could inculcate values of equality in rural patients, like a pregnant lady in an OBGYN ward, or a neglected female child in the paediatric section. It feels like a daunting task, to break and dismantle the ideas, the systemic in-rooted patriarchy that is deep-seated in people’s minds: but even a small change goes a long way.

As “healers,” doctors and medical students can help bridge the gap in the fight for women’s rights. Simply talking to families, to mothers about equal nutrition, equal treatment, even just equal immunisation of their children, no matter the gender, is one step forward. Medical Students can educate themselves and their peers about

the struggles faced by women in rural communities, and how they can help rid orthodox mindsets.

Studies also show a majority of women dealing with domestic abuse turn first to their doctors for help. Over 27.5 million women go through forms of domestic abuse in their lives. They need help and guidance — healthcare professionals play a huge role in this, as they are often the only safe and private places these women can speak up. Medical Students can help create a safe environment for women facing domestic violence to come forward, and help them navigate their way out to a better, free life.

The fight for Women’s Rights isn’t a new-fangled, dystopian idea. It is a fight for Human Rights. Doctors and Medical Students have an important, influential standing in communities; and even by incorporating just a few changes, they can do their part in progressing the society towards a healthy, wholesome and better environment that values women beyond their provincial roles and as strong, capable individuals.

References

  1. Sexual Violence & Rape in India — The Lancet (2014)
  2. Images and Icons: Harnessing the Power of Media to Reduce Sex-Selective Abortion in India — MacPherson, Yvonne (2007)
  3. Women’s experiences of Domestic Violence and Abuse — HealthTalk (2018)
  4. Evolution Of Women Rights In India — Anjali Chauhan (2020)
  5. Fertility, Dimensions of Patriarchy, and Development in India — Malhotra, Anju; Vanneman, Reeve; Kishor, Sunita (2005)

About the author

Jainil Devani is a First Year Medical Student at GMERS Gotri Medical College, Vadodara, India. He is a member of the MSAI (Medical Students Association of India), under IFMSA. He also recently stood 1st in a National Anatomy Paper Contest, “iKAL” organised by Saveetha Medical College, Chennai.

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