CSS Solved Gender Studies Past Papers | Elucidate the current health status of women in Pakistan. What measures could be taken to improve women’s status as a whole? Support your arguments with suitable examples.
The following question of Gender Studies is attempted on the same pattern, taught by Sir to his students, scoring the highest marks in compulsory subjects for years. This solved past paper question is uploaded to help aspirants understand how to crack a topic or question, how to write relevantly, what coherence is, and how to include and connect ideas, opinions, and suggestions to score the maximum.
In this question, the examiner wants to know about the current health status of women in Pakistan. Also, what measures could be taken to improve the status of women as a whole in Pakistan in it politics, health or education sector. The following answer shed light on the health problems currently faced by women in Pakistan along with ways forwards for the betterment.
2- Current health status of women in Pakistan
- ✓ Delayed medical help during floods 2022
- ✓ Social dogmas limit the rights and access to reproductive health services
- ✓ Domestic violence: A chief source of complications in pregnancy
- ✓ Forced pregnancies and lack of access to family planning services
- ✓ Malnutrition of girls/women induced by discrimination
- ✓ Sexually transmitted diseases
3- Health-related issues throughout life cycle
- ✓ Health issues faced by girls since the time of birth till womanhood
4- Measures to be taken to improve women’s status as a whole
- ✓ Free maternity centres and emergency homes
- ✓ Appointing skilled midwives
- ✓ Availability of free screening programs
- ✓ Increased investment in the health sector
- ✓ Awareness programs about health issues
- ✓ Revise women’s health laws
Answer to the Question
Pakistan, being a developing country, is not a safe place for women, especially in terms of good health facilities. With meagre health budgets and policies, women are deprived of even basic health facilities, which is basically the state’s duty to provide. Despite technological advancements, women are still lacking behind and are subject to several minors as well as major health issues. Women are currently facing a myriad of health problems such as malnutrition due to discrimination, female infanticide, pre and post-pregnancy relates issues etc. Thus, there is a need to address these problems seriously and find a way out for the betterment of women as a whole.
Current health status of women in Pakistan
Following are the current health issues faced by women in Pakistan:
- Delayed medical help during floods 2022
Currently, the health status of women in Pakistan is not in good hands. Especially the floods of 2022 have cast a spell of destruction on women’s health. Women are the ones bearing most of the brunt of these tragic floods. Even before floods, the health conditions of women were not so good either. Almost 1,400 health facilities, as per a health specialist who works in UNFPA, have been destroyed across Baluchistan and Sindh because of floods. Not just that, among 30 million, 1.6 million women of reproductive age were in dire need of urgent health facilities.
- Social dogmas limit the rights and access to reproductive health services
It is not just the natural calamities which acts as an obstacle in the way of women’s health, but other social dogmas such as patriarchy and old rituals limit access to reproductive health service as well. For instance, the concept of midwives is not new, and rural areas still have more faith in midwives rather than gynaecologists. Midwives opt for traditional ways to provide health services to women, but they may cause unhygienic conditions which could be dangerous for both mother and child. Not just that, but the male members of the household also stick to the concept of midwives, thus making it difficult for women to access new technology and reproductive rights.
- Domestic violence: A chief source of complications in pregnancy
According to Pak Med Association, almost 16 to 76 per cent of women are subjected to domestic violence once in their lifetime. Domestic violence may b attributed to several reasons, such as financial problems, poverty, women’s lack of decision-making power in the household and the demand for the male child. These causes produce various women’s reproductive issues such as sexual disorders, gynaecological disarrays, antenatal disruptions, vaginal blood loss and sometimes miscarriage. The medical research by Nishtar Hospital Multan in 2019 examined 16 women who were admitted to the hospital with bruises on their bodies during pregnancy. They also said that the reason behind the first miscarriage was domestic violence by the intimate partner or, in some cases, other-in-law.
- Forced pregnancies and lack of access to family planning services
Forced and unwanted pregnancies are yet another prevalent issue in Pakistan faced by women. Studies in Family Planning 2014 reported that nearly half of the pregnancies were unintended, thus leading to abortion. Unintended births accounted for 15 per cent, while induced abortions and miscarriages were reported as 25 and 6 per cent, respectively. Women are not given reproductive rights or the right to make decisions, for that matter, regarding how many children they want to have. This leads to a population explosion and lack of resources not just for one family but on a collective stage, thus causing long-term health problems for women.
- Malnutrition of girls/women induced by discrimination
Another major health issue faced by women is malnutrition by discrimination. Discrimination is mainly induced by the male members of society since they prefer spending on male children more than female ones. UNICEF Pakistan Maternal Nutrition Strategy 202-27 suggested that malnutrition is so common in women, especially during pregnancy, thus causing post-natal issues for both mother and child. This malnutrition thus causes iodine, calcium deficiency, stillbirth, waste, stunting of child growth, short stature, folic acid insufficiency, instant abortion, placental abruption etc. with that, women in rural areas lack medical facilities to report such complications; therefore,, unintentionally converting them into long-term health problems.
- Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections such as AIDS are also a major health problem faced by women in Pakistan. This happens because of rampant sexual contact and without any measures. This further aggravates when there is the absence of a proper screening mechanism to diagnose the disease. Globally more than a million sexually transmitted infections occur daily, and over 53 000 women aged 15 and over were living with human immunodeficiency virus / acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in Pakistan by the year 2020, as per a research article posted by NIH. Thus, women live the rest of their lives with such diseases without even knowing about them. One reason for prolonged sexually transmitted disease in women is the unavailability of nearby medical facilities as well as a lack of education and awareness.
Health-related issues throughout the life cycle
Following are the health issues that a woman faces throughout her life, starting from birth till womanhood
|Stages of a woman’s life cycle||Health issues|
|As girl child||Malnutrition due to cultural discrimination in household resources|
|As teenage girl||Infection due to the use of dirty clothes instead of pads during menstruation|
|As Women||Female infanticide, termination of pregnancy, ultrasonic confirmation of gender, breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer|
Measures to be taken to improve women’s status as a whole
Owing to all the above-mentioned health issues faced by women, there is a dire need to take effective steps in order to improve women’s status as a whole.
- Free emergency centres and maternity homes
There is a dire need to establish free emergency centres and maternity homes, especially in rural areas. Moreover, these emergency centres must provide services 24/7. Also, there must be free emergency obstetric care units (Emoc).
- Appointing skilled midwives
There must be long-term planning to produce an army of competent and skilled midwives to reduce the maternal death rate. There are many nursing homes established in various cities of Pakistan that tend to produce skilled nurses, but there should be the same facilities to produce educated midwives.
- Availability of free screening programs
Shaukat Khanum has already taken the initiative and provided a free screening program, especially for breast cancer. This should be opted for by all medical facilities so that timely treatment can be done after diagnosis. Also, such facilities must be open in rural areas where women have no medical access.
- Increased investment in the health sector
Right now, the health sector of Pakistan constitutes 2 per cent of the overall GDP. The budget needs to be increased so that the maximum can be spent to improve the health conditions in the country. The budget must focus on training specialists, establishing medical facilities in backward areas, setting up diagnostic centres, and organizing programs for education and awareness about health-related issues.
- Awareness programs about health issues
NGOs and educational institutions should take up this responsibility to hold awareness programs in order to aware young girls. Moreover, NGOs should organize similar programs in far-fledged areas to educate rural women so that they may reach out to experts after having symptoms.
- Revise women’s health laws
Although section 338(A) of the Pakistan Penal Code allows abortion under specific conditions mentioned in the provision, it must be revised keeping in view the Islamic restrictions as well as the medical needs. Also, the factor of domestic violence and forced pregnancy must not be ignored and should be made a necessary condition of abortion to avoid infanticide.
The health status of women in Pakistan is not in good shape. It has been mired by various causes such as patriarchal mindsets, cultural discrimination, complications in pre and post-pregnancy, and issues faced by women living in rural areas such as that of non-access to medical facilities and screening centres etc. Therefore, there is a dire need for effective measures to improve the status of women as a whole and not just their health. The abovementioned measures can play a vital role in improvising health standards for women in Pakistan.
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