Welcome to our blog, Gender, Intersectionality & Health, where members from the Gender Centre alongside guest writers and students reflect on their own work, events we have hosted, current affairs and debates in the realms of Gender and Health. If you are interested in writing a contribution, please get in touch with at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us your submission, first referring to our blog guidance.
Call for submissions: We will be running a short blog and photo series to explore factors influencing food consumption across the globe, with a particular focus on gender and intersectionality. Find out more here.
When I was barely a few days old, my parents decided to circumcise me – a practice done by a majority of the Muslim population of Malaysia. I didn’t know this was considered wrong by some, or even an anomaly until years later when I joined Medical school in the UK. My family also had no clue that what they’ve done could be perceived as wrong.
Sometimes the summits of mountains may be reached, yet their presence still be beyond the chasms of deep-rooted valleys. In these valleys, the challenges for why we climb live and lurk. Just over a week ago, I sat mesmerised in the front row of an event to congratulate and witness the words of this years ‘Man Booker’ prize, Dr Jokha Alharthi, the first Omani woman to receive her storytelling translated into the English Language. She also holds a PhD in Arab literature.Alongside Jokha on the panel was Professor Marilyn Booth, the translator of 'Celestial Bodies', and Dr Elif Shafak, the most read woman novelist in Turkey and whose writing has created a worldwide phenomenon of speaking stories with power and potency that otherwise would remain crestfallen in silence.
Men’s health has generally been overlooked in the self care field, especially from a global perspective. A new report from Global Action on Men’s Health, Who Self-Cares Wins: A global perspective on men and self-care, aims to fill that gap. The report busts the myth that men are invariably self-destructive risk-takers – globally, most men do enough physical activity to benefit their health and do not smoke or drink alcohol – but also sets out very clearly where there is room for improvement. Here, Peter Baker, Director of Global Action on Men's Health, explores the report findings and lays out 10 concrete calls for action.
On 15th March 2019, a self-professed white supremacist attacked two mosques and left 50 Muslims dead in New Zealand. While the country was in shock and grief, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, alongside other New Zealand women, wore a scarf on her head, a form of hijab, in solidarity with the Muslim community. This display brought criticism from Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad, who has fought tirelessly against the compulsory hijab in Iran. Here, Dr Roghieh Dehghan, Honorary Fellow of the Gender Centre, reflects on this criticism.
Peter Baker, Director of Global Action on Men’s Health, argues that men’s health initiatives must take account of male gender norms, but it is not the role of health providers to remodel masculinity.
On International Men’s Day 2018, we were privileged to attend the conference titled “Creating Positive Futures for Boys and Young Men”. The conference explored issues surrounding gender-specific underachievement of boys and young men in academic education. The conference was organised by the Men and Boys Coalition, which is a network of academics, activists and charities raising awareness and tackling issues about the unmet needs of boys and young men in the United Kingdom.
The inspiration for this work stemmed from reflecting upon my own experiences as a young gay man, navigating self-awareness in a society that still perceives sexuality, health risks, and HIV in a way that is misinformed, biased and negatively influenced by stigma. I often found myself confronted with troubling notions pertaining sexuality, sexual orientation and how they supposedly correlate with HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases; these notions inherently affect the way in which sexually marginalised groups are perceived by the wider population.
In this piece, Dr Ayesha Ahmad looks at the silence and silencing of women in the clinic, both in the UK and Afghanistan, and raises concerns about a peculiar trend in mental health of ‘culturing’ in the United Kingdom and of ‘neutralising’ in Afghanistan.
'When authors simply list countless – often mutually incompatible – interpretations, I am left feeling anything can signify empowerment, if one argues sufficiently long and hard.' How, then do we make progress in this area? Alongside his new paper on 'Organising Concepts of ‘Women’s Empowerment’ for Measurement: A Typology', Dr Lu Gram reflects on how, by failing to clarify what we mean by the term ‘empowerment’, we often end up talking past each other instead of forging constructive conversations. Instead, he proposes a framework to encourage greater precision in the use of the term 'empowerment'.
Cervical screening is an important and potentially life-saving procedure, but at the moment 1 in 3 women in the UK feel unable to attend them. This month in the CGGH Blog series Dr Ellie Cosgrave writes about this huge issue for women's health, exploring how we should be promoting uptake as well as adapting medical procedures to make them more accessible. However, all too often campaigns promoting access to this service fail to understand and address the real reasons behind a lack of attendance.
We brought together an interdisciplinary roundtable of academics and practitioners working in the Global South to discuss critical perspectives of empowerment in the current Global Health discourse. Our discussion uncovered many internal contradictions and controversies over the meaning of empowerment, both a ‘thick ethical concept’ (Williams, 1985) and an ‘essentially contested concept’ (Gallie, 1956); such concepts involve judgments of both fact and value leading to continuous revisions of our understanding of the concept as our theories about social reality and societal values evolve, thus encouraging us to remain ever vigilant and self-critical about its use in our own practice and research.
Bringing together an interdisciplinary roundtable to discuss critical perspectives of empowerment in global health discourse unearthed various roots of the problematic nature of describing an individual or categorised group of individuals as being dis-empowered or who need empowering, typically by an organisation or agenda motivated by the already-empowered, writes Dr Ayesha Ahmad, reflecting on a roundtable discussion on gender and empowerment.