Involve men in women’s health
By Brighton Chireka
Women’s health is of particular concern in many societies. Men should also be involved in women’s health so as to fully appreciate or understand women’s health issues. Being a man or a woman has a significant impact on health, as a result of both biological and gender-related differences. The health of women and girls is of particular concern because, in many societies, they are disadvantaged by discrimination rooted in sociocultural factors.
I am pleased that there is a concerted effort by women’s pressure groups to raise awareness about women’s health. I applaud this and urge them to go further by involving men in championing their cause. We know there are unequal power relationships between men and women. These relationships severely impact on women’s health.
Every opportunity should be used to raise awareness about women’s health. March is a special month as there are several activities lined up focussing on women. Sadly at times men are excluded from these activities. We all know that man and woman are “one flesh ” and trying to separate them is to go against the laws of the creator. The creator saw how lonely the man was and decided to create a helper. The helper was created from the ribs of the man signifying the oneness involved from creation. Women’s health is men’s health as it is impossible for a husband to be mentally and social well when the wife is bedridden with a sickness.
I have been discussing with a lot of people on social media about women’s health issues and I think it’s also appropriate to share with a wider audience that read this column. As we were discussing women’s health a feminists questioned why men were taking a lead in discussing these health issues. I know that several women groups do discuss these health issues but I think it’s not effective to focus on men or women alone.
Men are capable of reflecting on their experience and are interested in making changes in their lives for the benefit of women as well as themselves. Involving men in discussing women’s health issues acknowledges that for any change to take place it requires all members of the society – women and men working towards a common goal. A change that is sustainable will come from an approach that fosters cooperation among all community members. I know that some women fear that if men participate , they will take over and focus less on women’s health. Regardless of this risk I think there is more to benefit in engaging men as we all know that men and women live together , share the same bed and are in relationships as well. The wellbeing of the woman will directly or indirectly have an impact on the man.
By engaging men we help them to change their attitudes towards women who are not feeling well. Men need to know or appreciate how it feels to have period pain ( dysmenorrhea ) , morning sickness ( hyperemesis gravidarum) or how painful labour is. We must not also forget that most men still play crucial roles through their responsibilities as decision-makers and leaders within their families and communities .
Society has to recognise that there are men out there who are caring for their women and are more involved in their wives’ health and well-being and are advocates for women’s well -being . There is need to make sure that these men can influence other men to be involved in the health of their partners. It’s good to see men accompanying their wives to labour wards and going through the whole process of labour supporting their wives. In my training in the maternity department I saw men who were “so caring” that they could not bear the pain of watching their wives going through labour. I remember having to help one caring men who had fainted as he could not bear the “labour pains” – (remember when married we become one flesh).
Finally , excluding men from getting involved in women’s health can provoke male hostility and retaliation. It will create more problems for women and leave them with more work to do among unsympathetic men. It is better to involve them so they understand when a woman cannot perform the conjugal duties due to the period pain. They will be able to give a woman the hot water bottle and buy her ibuprofen to ease the pain . They will be able to get the woman some ginger biscuits to help ease morning sickness. They will even go further and cook for their loved one.
Let’s be fair, men and women interact on a daily basis in their households and public lives. The involvement of men in women’s health issues makes interventions more relevant and workable. This will create lasting changes. Male inclusion increase their responsibility as they will not hide behind lack of knowledge. They will also see themselves benefiting in the long term as they will work in partnership with their wives.
In view of the above let’s continue champion the wellbeing of everyone regardless of their gender, sexual orientation,race, or political affiliation. I urge you to join hands with me in this cause. Feel free to share this article so as to reach a wider audience.
This article was compiled by Dr. Brighton Chireka who is a GP and a Health Commissioner in South Kent Coast in the United Kingdom. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org and can read more of his work on his blog at Dr Chireka’s Blog
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Dr Chireka has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. Views expressed here are personal and do not in any way , shape or form represent the views of organisations that Dr Chireka work for or is associated with.