Closing the gap in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Siddharth Kumar, a final year medical student at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, 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.

In a country like India where every third women has never been to school or was never able to finish it, there is one institution where most of these women arrive in their in lifetime. It is important that we make sure that this visit has a bearing on the lives of these women. Hospitals are these places which offer the hope of educating women about their most basic rights and even help them achieve it. But sadly most senior consultants are overburdened with an ever increasing caseload which makes it even more difficult to help them. This is a problem where the junior most in any hospital can help.

Medical students and interns are available in almost all departments round the year, and they generally talk to and examine a patient before the consultant’s appointment. Unlike the doctors who generally interrupt the patients in first few seconds of them speaking and are concerned mainly with the diagnosis and treatment. Medical students are keen on listening on all the problems that a patient might complain about. This leads to the formation of a stronger bond of trust between the two. The redflags (if any) can be used to alert the senior doctor or the authorities.

In a department like paediatrics this extra time and bond can be used to counsel the mother regarding the harmful and evil female genital mutilation (a practice still prevalent in India) is, how the mother shouldn’t have a bias against the female gender, tell her about how she should make sure to give all her wards the best education that she can afford, parents can be together counselled about sharing the responsibility of household chores and taking care of their new-born.

In the OBGYN clinic the mother can be informed about her right to get a contraceptive, importance of keeping her body before the desire of having another child at the earliest as per the needs of her family. Breaking the most basic myths regarding sex determination in India.

It’s essential to use the bond formed with the mother to inquire about the bruises she has incurred in the recent past, making her well aware of her right to stand against any form of harassment and violence.

The path and fight to create a better world is a long journey, one must not forget that what might seem the most basic rights have still not been achieved by many, it’s essential for these people to be enabled enough to break this cycle of injustice, and to do so knowledge is the only key. We as medical students and young doctors should try and affect as many lives as we can, it will only be through the smallest of steps that the light of a new day will reach the darkest corners. 

About the author

Siddharth Kumar is a final year medical student at the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, India and a member of the IFMSA. He has developed an interest in writing and have started to nurture it recently.

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