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

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Vandana Kumari, a 24 year-old, final year MBBS Student in krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Deemed University Karad, 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.

Although we live in a modern and independent society, many women doesn’t have the fundamental and decision making rights for themselves and they are the one who are suffers from numerous issues in life. The fundamental women’s rights,  include right to body integrity and autonomy, right to education, access to healthcare facilities and services, right of marriage, contraception, pregnancy or abortion, career choices, finances & fair and equal salary, freedom from sexual or domestic abuse & violence, right to vote and make a decision. Sometimes they are supported by law, custom while sometimes they are ignored and their voices are suppressed.

Medical students don’t have access to provide treatment to the women directly, but they can provide information related to the health issues, screening tests, government policies for women’s empowerment and the laws for their protection and rights, can inform the authorities and healthcare system about the abuse, help the women in getting emotional and psychological support and can give advice for specific consultation, and provide them a patient-centered experience with minimum cost to ensure their health and well-being. The health care as a whole system is changing fast, so is the world and it’s the duty of us, the future medical professional to lessen the gap accelerate women’s overall growth.

The first thing a medical student should do is to identify women who in the healthcare system, community, family or neighborhood is suffering, deprived of her fundamental rights and they should be approached in a friendly manner or the student can inform their seniors or authorities about it. It is important to establish the communication with them in a trustworthy manner and as future medical professional, one should be non-judgmental and unbiased, and led the conversation with them without our personal beliefs and inference.

If there is health related issues then a medical student can provide information about their condition and disease, all the available treatment and prevention options, vaccination or screening tests. If it’s a case of sexual or domestic abuse or violence, identification and approach to patients, attainment of her confidence and providing her emotional support and doing examination in private space can be helpful, also one can help and provide the women information regarding the rules and law for the same to punish the accused. And the respective authorities should be notified and informed regarding the same and counseling should be done if required. As for pregnant women, apart from providing information about her related to pregnancy changes, education about contraceptive measures, counseling, knowledge about breastfeeding, STI, gestational diseases and myths related to pregnancy should be cleared. In case of abortion, according to the provision of the law in the country, it should be provided to the women, and the decision of it is solely based on women’s choice, and if the abortion is related to female feticide it should be reported immediately.

One should do their best to empower irrespective of anything.

About the author

Vandana Kumari is 24 year old,  final year MBBS Student in krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Deemed University Karad, Maharashtra, India.  She likes to write articles and essays and is interested in doing research work. She believes that hard and fun work gives the best result.

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