What is the main point of the chapter "Gender equity: Perspectives on maternal and child heath" in Tolhurt, Raven, and Theobald's Maternal and Child Health: Global Challenges, Programs, and...

What is the main point of the chapter "Gender equity: Perspectives on maternal and child heath" in Tolhurt, Raven, and Theobald's Maternal and Child Health: Global Challenges, Programs, and Policies? What is surprising? What is confusing?

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diva-barr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This article explores how gender inequalities intersect with socio-cultural factors (class, race, education etc.) to impact the health and well-being of women and children. Because of socio-economic inequalities that favor men and disadvantage women, such as gender-based violence, lower social value of women in certain cultures, religious taboos about pregnancy and abortion etc., women typically have more limited access to adequate health care; this, in turn, negatively impacts the health and well-being of children whose mothers are unhealthy and not receiving sufficient care. The accepted solution to this problem is known as "gender mainstreaming". In essence, this is the practice of implementing gender awareness at every phase of health planning and policy so that gender-balanced access to health care can be achieved. 

As stated under the section titled "Research Priorities", it is surprising that there is such limited research to date examining the social impact of gender roles on maternal and child health. Given broad awareness that gender inequality negatively impacts women's health, and by association, children's well-being, there ought to be detailed research involving gender analysis so that more solutions to the problem can be implemented. Such research ought to be conducted at national and regional levels for different countries given the vast differences in the ways gender shapes health practices and policies across cultures.

Although gender mainstreaming sounds great on paper, it is a little confusing that this could be a truly effective way to address maternal health and healthcare. From the article, it seems that all socio-cultural factors impacting health are correlated. If this is the case, it is hard to imagine certain religious or cultural practices that limit women's agency ever changing if those practices are rooted in deep-seated traditions and beliefs; just as some people advocate creationism and reject scientific evolutionary theory, certain communities will undoubtedly always endow men with higher social value, and by association, grant them better access to health resources.