Healthcare Providers Receive Training on Gender and Health

The Centre for Gender Research, Advocacy and Documentation (CEGRAD) has organised a day’s training workshop on Gender and Health for some healthcare providers in Ghana. It was aimed at sensitising and building the capacity of healthcare professionals to identify and address gender issues arising in their practice and service delivery. The workshop, held in collaboration with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the School of Medical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, brought together medical officers, nurses, physicians assistants, midwives and other healthcare providers. "Gender Sensititive Ethical Practice in Health care Delivery" was the theme for the workshop. Speaking on the topic “Introduction to basic concepts in Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Rights,” the Research Coordinator at CEGRAD, Dr. Angela Akorsu, noted that gendering involved inculcating gender ideologies and role expectations into individuals. According to her, gendering also implied the acquisition of a social and sexual identity and the learning of appropriate sets of behaviours and capacities associated with one’s sex. In almost all cultures, she noted that, females were exposed to patriarchy- a system of power relations in which women are subordinated to men. Dr. Akorsu explained that patriarchy thrived on seven pillars of social institutions that reinforce women’s subordination, namely: family, media, health, religion, political, educational and economic. She, however, noted that patriarchal control also involved socially powerful women wielding male power for the benefit of men. She said, for example, it was older women with power who indulged in the activities of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), widowhood rites, among other harmful cultural practices. The Research Coordinator admitted that “gender is a social creation” but expressed concern that it was constructed in a way that limits women’s life chances, creating needs and vulnerabilities in women with implications for education, health care, income and political participation. “It is not the fact that it is socially created that boarders us, but the way it is structured; the way it limits women’s life chances, that is what we are concerned about,” Dr. Akorsu added. Touching on Sexuality and Reproductive Health, the Director of CEGRAD, Prof. Akua Britwum, noted that sexuality and reproductive health was one of the most contested areas in health care delivery with deep implications for ethical practices. She explained that healthcare professionals faced ethical challenges when their patients, with sexual partner preferences such as homosexuals, bisexuals and heterosexuals, seek for medical treatment. Prof Britwum said two primary objectives relevant to sexual health were quality of sexual relations and individual access to reproductive rights and responsibilities. She noted that some health policies and health care practices had significant impact on sexuality and, therefore, advised healthcare practitioners not to remain quiet on issues of sexuality because “it is central to reproductive and sexual health”. For his part, the Head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr. Joseph Adu, who took participants through Gender issues in Ministry of Health Gender Policy, said the main objectives of the Gender Policy were to promote professional ethics and human rights amongst health workers in the delivery of health care and also to address gender gaps in health care delivery at the household level. To achieve the goals and objectives of the policy, Dr. Adu observed that the Ministry should design gender sensitive policies and programmes that would ensure equal opportunities, create an enabling work environment for both women and men, build the capacity of staff of the Ministry to ensure gender responsive budgeting. He said some of the challenges facing the policy document included resource mobilization and allocation, research, gender responsive budgeting and, monitoring and evaluation. A senior lecturer at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Dr. Evans Agbeno led participants during an interactive sessions on Gender and Healthcare Delivery, whilst Dr. Genevieve Adukpo and Ms. Amanda Odoi also handled Strategies for Gender Sensitive Programme Reform and Ethical Practices.