The role of medical students in promoting women’s rights

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Taliya Firdaus, a 2nd year medical student at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh, India. She 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.


As I am penning down the inequality faced by women, almost 1 out of 3 women around the world would have faced some or the other forms of social injustice.

The United Nations deemed women’s right to be the fundamental human rights. It provides that there should be equal political,economic,social,cultural and civil rights for women. After more than a century of advocacy, the violations of women’s right still plague the world. Voicing one’s opinion has become the privilege of a few.

The stereotype present in the society affects the women psychologically . They often face what is called as an imposter syndrome, which is a constant feeling of inadequacy about oneself. Women often start feeling that they are not capable enough to succeed in life. This jeopardizes their self esteem and often leads to self sabotaging demeanour and difficulty with internal validation of success.

Quoting Virchow, “The physicians are natural attorneys of the poor, and the social problems should largely be solved by them”. There is no denial to the fact that professional institutions play a paramount role in moulding the society. Medical care is nothing but a complex social process influenced by the cultural values.

Women’s rights advocacy by medical students can leave indelible effects on people. In a country like India, many women are not even aware of the rights they have.

The deep embedded patriarchy often makes them believe that the few rights they enjoy are mere privileges, which can be revoked anytime. Educating and informing them about their basic rights can make them critically question the norms and practices and realize their self-worth.

More than 200 million women across the world, undergo female genital mutations.

Around 650 million women across the globe were married before the age of 18.

Creating an empowering situation for women patients is an inevitable step to bridge the gender gap. Discussing not just about her concerned issue but informing her about all the social factors affecting her health is very crucial.

The UN Educational,scientific and cultural organization’s women in science data reveals that less than 30% of the worlds researchers are women. In health care system, issues of wages and leadership disparities are prominent.

As medical students and more importantly as youth reformers, we should infuse leadership skills in us and also in women around us. This would strengthen our voices against the brutal and inhuman violations of human rights.

The new sustainable development goals (SDG’s) includes a specific goal (goal5) for gender inequality.It emphasizes not just on ending violence against women but also aims to make sure that there is no paucity of opportunities and women get to represent themselves equally.

As medical students and social advocates ,it is our duty to turn oppression into opportunities. The world can be transformed into a better place if the power is equally shared and the decision making is more democratic and gender inclusive.

References:

https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/physician-diversity/overcoming-gender-obstacles-medicine

About the author

Taliya Firdaus is a 2nd year medical student at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Aligarh , India. She is an active member of Medical Students Association of India (MSAI) and has organized and volunteered in several awareness sessions under MSAI. She is a voracious reader and loves to pen down her thoughts as poems or articles. The pandemic has also made her a freelance content writer. She is very passionate about medicine and loves to interact and learn from people. She has attended several national and international webinars and workshops under IFMSA. She believes that the world can be a better place if people were more tolerant, patient and kind towards each other.

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