Annals of Tropical Medicine and Public Health

EDITORIAL COMMENTARY
Year
: 2017  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1423--1424

Dealing with the issues of gender inequality and aiming for the empowerment of adolescent girls


Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava, Jegadeesh Ramasamy 
 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India




How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Dealing with the issues of gender inequality and aiming for the empowerment of adolescent girls.Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:1423-1424


How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Dealing with the issues of gender inequality and aiming for the empowerment of adolescent girls. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2017 [cited 2019 Dec 7 ];10:1423-1424
Available from: http://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2017/10/6/1423/222714


Full Text



Adolescence is a crucial phase in the lifetime of any individual, which witnesses rapid physical and psychosocial changes and simultaneously exposes them to sexual and reproductive health hazards and opportunities.[1],[2] It has been estimated that globally 1.2 billion people are in the adolescent age group, and more than 1 million of them died in 2015 due to preventable or manageable causes.[1] Even though most of them are healthy, nevertheless, any illness or social pressure can significantly hinder their ability to grow and reach their optimal potential, and such risk has been found to be extremely high for adolescent girls.[3]

Furthermore, early adolescence is a phase in which it is expected that girls and boys comply with the conventional practices prevailing in the society, and these practices only play a defining role in the aggravation of gender inequality.[3] In fact, such inequitable attitude results in the adoption of harmful behaviors, and so poor sexual and reproductive health outcomes for girls (such as early marriage, early pregnancy and related complications, unsafe abortion, and acquisition of sexually transmitted infections).[1],[2],[3],[4] Moreover, the current estimates reflect that more than 14 million girls are married before the recommended age, while 49 births per 1000 girls have been reported in the 15–19 years of age group each year.[1],[4] In addition, 33% of the adolescent girls in the late adolescent age group have been exposed to physical and/or sexual violence by their partner.[4] All these experiences of the adolescent girls significantly enhance the risk of death, poor educational accomplishment, limited earning potential, and their overall well-being.[1],[2],[3],[4]

In addition, it is a common observation in developing nations that with the attainment of puberty, often the freedom of movement of girls is restricted and they are expected to participate in household activities, or to get married or to stay away from their opposite gender.[3] Furthermore, gender inequality present in variable forms with different status, power and opportunities being given to girls and boys based on their gender.[3],[4] In fact, these social practices have been internalized to such an extent that a significant proportion of boys and girls in the 15–19 years of age group support the practices of beating the wives or unequal gender division of labor, as observed in different epidemiological studies.[3] The so-called gender attitudes have proved to be extremely harmful for adolescent girls who are expected to be subordinate, have no role in taking any decisions, and are often not exposed to any opportunities.[3]

Acknowledging the significant impact of the prevailing sociocultural practices on the lives of adolescent girls both in short- and long-term, the global stakeholders, have aimed to accomplish gender equity so that they are enabled to grow and attain their complete potential.[1],[4],[5] The need of the hour is to bring about a change in the conventional practices which encourage gender inequity, and the best time is to address the same in the early adolescence phase before it becomes a crucial attribute.[3],[4],[5] This calls for promotion of equitable gender attitudes by ensuring their empowerment and by developing their self-esteem.[4] Whenever a girl is empowered, they become a strong woman as well and not only can take good care of themselves, but also of their family members, and can also play a defining role in the growth of their family.[3],[4] The best intervention is to involve the community leaders and utilize different modes of mass media against the battle of gender inequality.[1],[3],[4]

To conclude, adolescent girls can play a critical role in framing the future of the family as well as the society. Thus, all efforts should be taken to improve their position in the society and for their empowerment, as it will indirectly assist in the accomplishment of other health-related goals.

References

1World Health Organization. Adolescents: Health Risks and Solutions-Fact Sheet; 2016. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs345/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 11].
2Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Assessment of knowledge and practices about menstrual health among adolescent girls of an urban slum in Mumbai. Int J Public Health Res 2013;3:307-11.
3Kågesten A, Gibbs S, Blum RW, Moreau C, Chandra-Mouli V, Herbert A, et al. Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally: A mixed-methods systematic review. PLoS One 2016;11:e0157805.
4World Health Organization. Girls' Progress Equals Goals' Progress: What Counts for Girls; 2016. Available from: http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/topics/gender_rights/girls-international-day/en/. [Last accessed on 2016 Oct 13].
5Ahmed H, Thaver I, Aziz R, Munir A. Adolescent girls empowerment can save their future. J Pak Med Assoc 2016;66:1349.