Women’s Health: Are we addressing myths, beliefs, and practices that restrict women’s access to health?

Originally published on LinkedIn.

“If your husband fools around, you will have difficult labor.” “If you fool around, you will die of bleeding after childbirth.” “If you are menstruating, you are not pure enough to enter a temple.” “Eating clay helps morning sickness in pregnancy.” “Bringing up girls is like watering the neighbor’s garden.” “The place for shoes and women is in feet.” “Sex with a virgin cures AIDS.” “A good woman eats last after feeding the family.”

These are just some of the #myths, #beliefs, and #practices that restrict girls and women from achieving their full potential and access to quality #healthcare. These notions are deeply embedded in socio-cultural life and #gender bias against women. Strong evidence and a broad consensus exists about their negative impact on women’s health, including #maternalhealth. Although most programs and projects aiming to reduce #maternaldeaths have some focus on addressing these challenges, the strategies, and approaches to address them lack depth and long-term planning to make a real impact.

The solutions need to integrate #gender and deep-seated #socio-cultural factors that have existed for centuries to control, subjugate, and restrict women. The #interventions should have short-term and long-term goals that are backed by evidence and crafted with the active engagement of the #community.

A project is not expected to come out at the other end of five years by winning the battle against these deep-seated challenges. But what a project can do is to roll the winning dice and put some structures and systems in place to enable the dice to keep rolling beyond the life of the project.