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

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Tishtar Chindhy, a final year student (MBBS) at RCSM GMC Kolhapur, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, 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.


The first step to closing the gaps in accelerating women’s rights is listening to women. As Arundhati Roy remarked, “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard.” In a patriarchal world where women are silenced and unheard by most, medical students can play a crucial role.

We’re required to listen attentively and empathetically to our patients. Most medical students today are millennials and Gen Z’ers who are politically aware and active. We’re aware of issues faced by women- lack of agency, female genital mutilation, economic dependence, early arranged marriages, young motherhood, pressure to have a male child, intimate partner violence, lack of access to menstrual hygiene products, contraception, safe abortion services, etc. While studying public health, we learn about indicators like sex ratio, literacy rates, nutritional status, morbidity rates, etc., that reflect these issues. Thus, we exist at an intersection of micro and macro perspectives. If we are to heal the women in our hospitals, we must dismantle the patriarchy that is killing them.

Sexism is alive within medicine- lack of representation, glass ceiling, gender pay gap, etc. In response to this, female medical students are being sold the idea of a “girl boss”- a rich and powerful female doctor who has it all- she has conquered the OR and is a wonderful wife and mother. This is not a complete solution. We cannot dismantle sexism in medicine without dismantling sexism as a whole. While it is not wrong to think of one’s personal income and career trajectory, we must shed our hyperindividualised aspirations and not chase this capitalist dream. We must remember that women can practice medicine today due to the collective effort of feminists who came before us.

So, what can medical students do? As a first step, students should organize a feminist collective at their respective medical colleges. These collectives must facilitate discussions that raise class consciousness. Students should listen to human rights activists, writers, lawyers, etc. who are tackling women’s issues. This will help them develop a well-rounded perspective and gain insight as to how they fit into this movement. The voices of women from marginalized backgrounds should be amplified within these collectives and elitism of any kind should be curbed.

Students can become educators who provide Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) with a focus on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI), tackle taboos and stigma around menstruation and breastfeeding, and expand contraceptive education and method choice. It is important to educate boys and men on toxic masculinity and engage them in the feminist movement. Students can conduct research pertaining to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and advocate for better national health programs and their proper implementation.

I hope medical students will rise to the challenge and remain defiant in the face of adversity posed by the patriarchy. Working for women’s rights is no doubt an uphill task; but it is vital that we do so and what better time to start than now?

About the author

Tishtar Chindhy is a final year student (MBBS) at RCSM GMC Kolhapur, Kolhapur, Maharashtra, India.

the sting Milestones

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

Women Empowering inside Medical Schools

JADE Spring Meeting 2017 – day 3: JADE Academy trainings, networking session and gala dinner – Excellence Awards winners revealed

3 ways to fight stress at work

Rule of Law: European Commission takes new step to protect judges in Poland against political control

The three biggest challenges for India’s future

Fleeing violence, Cameroonian refugee arrivals in Nigeria pass 30,000, reports UN refugee agency

How debt for climate swaps could spur a green recovery

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

Robots and chatbots can help alleviate the mental health epidemic

The EU Spring Summit set to challenge austerity

COVID-19: Why we must take the widescreen view of workforce uncertainty

Why this city is paying people to move there

To build a circular economy, we need to put recycling in the bin

Digital Single Market: New EU rules for online subscription services

The new crisis is already creeping into the financial system

Digital democracy: a Swiss view on digital trust

European Citizens’ Initiative: A game of much publicity and one big lie

Few countries are pricing carbon high enough to meet climate targets

East Africa locusts threaten food insecurity across subregion, alerts UN agriculture agency

Commission welcomes political agreement on Recovery and Resilience Facility

A day in the life of a refugee: the role of nations and citizens of the world

EU: Turkey to shelter Syrian refugees and turn other immigrants back in return of €3 billion

Team Europe increased Official Development Assistance to €66.8 billion as the world’s leading donor in 2020

COVID-19: MEPs call for measures to close the digital gap in education

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

How man and machine can work together in the age of AI

COVID-19: A new drug is tested, and other top science stories of the week

Being blinded by labels stops social change. Art helps us see a better future

4 ways Africa can prepare its youth for the digital economy

I have a rare disease. This is my hope for the future of medicine

EU to relocate 40,000 migrants across the bloc: first step of a long due substantial reform?

Iceland to take vacated US seat on Human Rights Council

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

UN mission welcomes Afghan government’s announcement of Eid holiday ceasefire

Rehn ready to sacrifice part of the real economy

Regional competitiveness and growth: a Gordian knot for Europe

Can the EU afford a trade war with China?

Joint U.S.-EU Statement following President Juncker’s visit to the White House

Trump’s America divides the world, bullies China and Europe

China Unlimited – The chinese tourism in Lisbon

Rights of ‘gilets jaunes’ protesters in France, ‘disproportionately curtailed’, say UN independent experts

Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into possible trade restrictions by Mondelēz

Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: MEPs demand action to protect citizens’ privacy

Protector or polluter? The impact of COVID-19 on the movement to end plastic waste

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

Learning lessons from across Europe – the hidden costs of COVID-19 on lung cancer

China repels EU allegations of export subsidies

The world needs carbon-neutral flying. Here’s how to bring it one step closer

Bolivia crisis: UN chief sends envoy to support peace, amidst renewed clashes

Failing to agree climate action would ‘not only be immoral’ but ‘suicidal’, UN chief tells COP24

Agreement reached on new EU Solidarity Corps

New identity cards deliver recognition and protection for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

UN ‘prioritizing needs’, ramping up aid, as Hurricane Dorian continues to batter the Bahamas

How this one change can help people fight poverty

Haitian President at General Assembly calls for essential development aid as UN mission shifts away from peacekeeping

Preventing and resolving conflicts must form ‘backbone’ of collective efforts – UN chief

Financing economic recovery, written by United Nations Under-Secretary-General

Commission welcomes provisional agreement on the European Climate Law

UN Chief says ending poverty ‘a question of justice’ on International Day

Go early, go hard and keep it simple: how Senegal is staying ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic

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