According to the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report, India now ranks 140th out of 156 nations in terms of gender disparity. Although India’s family planning program has made significant progress in promoting contraception and reducing HIV/AIDS there are still many challenges facing women’s health in India. Women in rural areas face many barriers in accessing healthcare, including lack of transport and limited health facilities.
Awareness of women-related health is also low, for example, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in India, with over 150,000 new cases diagnosed each year. However, very few women know how to self-examine or spot the symptoms. Maternal mortality and morbidity remain high along with high rates of teenage pregnancies. Many women face significant barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health services and safe sex practices. Knowledge about menstrual health and hygiene and menopause is also limited with myths and misinformation prevalent.
Throughout April, our female beneficiaries and staff were provided with essential information to improve their knowledge on all of the above. We were fortunate to have Dr Sara El Nimr, a gynaecologist from Ireland with us for one month. She was focused on providing training to those in the medical field, including doctors, nurses and relevant project staff, on women’s and reproductive health. She also delivered workshops to our staff, women, girls and boys to guide them on female hygiene, consent and menstrual, reproductive and sexual health as well as tips on how to conduct their own self-examinations to identify issues.
This was complemented by a menstrual health session by students from Vikhe Patil Nursing College and HIV health education from Prayas.