It is a universal observation on an international level that there is a significant difference in the way people from different genders are treated by health care and health care officials. This shows in different ways: from the ability to access respective services, to the way, medical professionals interact with their patients and treatments are designed.
The issue is especially affecting women, young girls and queer people, who face numerous structural and infrastructural barriers to important resources. Domestic violence, general availability of services, cultural norms, or the policy makers who are in power to shape the system, are just some examples of factors that influence health care access.
Together with the First Lady of Namibia (FLON), we are committed to highlight this topic during the United Nations General Assembly taking place in New York City. In our “Ohhh! Talks live @UNGA” panel with FLON and the inspiring speakers Emma Inamutila Theofelus (Deputy Minister of Information and Communication Technology Namibia), University of Alabama doctoral candidate Alison Footman, Bongiwe Ndlovu (Deputy Africa Lead of the Ohhh! Foundation) and the organisations COO, Anna Konopka-Feiler, who moderated the talk.
The issue of the gender health gap is of major significance to Ohhh! and the purpose the organisation is set to fulfill. Fighting the gap in gender health care, amongst other things, means providing comprehensive and equal access to sexual health care. This goes along with promoting sexual self-determination, enabling individuals to protect themselves from the spread of STD’s and STI’s and, overall, the support of reproductive rights.
With the professed aim of furthering and ensuring universal health and happiness to all, it is crucial to support and motivate young people, thereby helping them shape systems that provide equal care and opportunities.
Speaking about these issues means putting them on the public agenda, raising peoples awareness and enable them to take proactive measures in making the health care system more inclusive and available. It is an essential step in opening the discourse and fighting stigmata.
The panel, joined by high-ranking and experienced expert speakers was one important step towards reaching that goal. Nevertheless, as a matter of course, actions will have to follow to overcome women’s unequal access, demanding a fundamental change in the way health care is communicated and designed. To truly ensure equality, it is necessary to make young people and women a part of the discourse and the decision-making process. This not only requires political actors and activists to communicate needs and grievances honestly and clearly, it also heavily relies on policy-makers to listen to these voices and implement sustainable changes and new technologies.
There is no question that, to reach the goal of extensive access to reproductive health resources and information, there is a long way to go – but there are many motivated, educated and highly skilled actors who are putting their constant efforts towards reaching that goal.
We are honoured to support these actors and grateful for the participation of our expert speakers and the insights they were providing. We are highly looking forward to our next talk.