Sharing knowhow and joining forces towards Health for All

#8M, because the world is not yet violet

Photo: FAMME
Photo: FAMME

FAMME, 8 March 2019. The wage gap between men and women is widest in the health sector 23.1%, when the average in Spain is 14.2%. medicusmundi  works for equality with projects with women and for women.

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year. It is a focal point in the movement for women's rights. Few dates of the year are so successful, even before they are celebrated. The reason is that the themes that address gender inequality (pay gap, job discrimination, family care, gender violence) have been open all year. They are never closed. This year women are concentrated in an unprecedented mobilization, and Spain  is at the top of world feminism.

If 2018 put issues such as harassment in the workplace (#metoo) on the agenda of public debate, which until then had not been visible on a global scale, in 2019 we aspire to achieve concrete results. If we have not been able to do so in 50 years of struggle for equality, we must set ourselves precise short-term objectives. And if society as a whole agrees that there are inequalities and discrimination against women, why aren't all the desired results being achieved?

In the European Union, women now account for more than 60% of all university graduates. As a result, they should also have more and better paid jobs. But statistics confirm that this is not the case. The wage gap in Europe is 16.2% and in Spain 14.2%. This gap implies a greater risk of poverty, which increases in retirement. There can be up to 36% difference in pensions.

The factors that influence the wage gap are multiple: part-time jobs (due to family responsibilities), failure to break the Glass Ceiling for pure discrimination, jobs in lower-paid work sectors (health care at the head, education, social services), additional responsibilities of family and household care, so they interrupt their careers or have to abandon them.

The measures the EU proposes to implement in 2019, in terms of work-life balance, are ten days of leave for fathers after the birth of a child; 4 months of non-transferable leave for each parent; flexible work patterns for results (not for face-to-face hours); tax systems that do not penalise paternity; greater investment and more in support for fathers such as nurseries, and guarantees of protection against discrimination and dismissal of carers and fathers, including pregnant women and workers returning after paternity leave.

More general measures include increasing women's participation in the labour market and reducing the gap between women and men in wages and pensions to avoid the risk of female poverty; promoting equality in decision-making; combating violence against women and protecting and supporting victims; promoting gender equality and women's rights worldwide.

These measures are not  implemented in many companies. There is very good will, but we know that other priorities count and equality is forgotten. In 2019 the time seems to have come to make a leap, and that governments and public institutions go from "recommending" to "legislating" to establishing sanctions and/or penalties so that equality measures are effective.

If we study the differences by productive area, various studies conclude that one of the sectors that deepens the wage gap most is health, with a wage gap that soars to 23.1. The scientific journal The Lancet concludes that women are undervalued in this sector. According to editor Jocalyn Clark "women are at a disadvantage within science, medicine and the health sector in general. Gender equity in science is not only a matter of justice and rights, it is crucial to produce the best research and the best care for patients. Another analysis by the London School of Tropical Medicine finds that the number of women far outnumber men at lower levels with low salaries, but decreases in management positions or specialties such as cardiology. If we go to medical journals, documents featuring a woman as an author are more likely to include gender differences after analyzing 11.5 million medical research articles between 1980 and 2016. One of the authors, Vincent Larivière confirms that gender disparities in this area have consequences for the health of the entire population.

At Medicusmundi we work to make gender equality,  equal opportunities, equal roles and, therefore, equal salaries a reality. We work for equality with projects. Many of the projects we develop in many countries  are focused in this aspect. For example, Koulikoro, Mali, is successfully running a cooperation project aimed at empowering and improving the socio-economic conditions of a group of elderly widows (between 65 and 85 years old) working in a vegetable garden near the Niger River, their only means of subsistence. Their quality of life and nutritional status was improved through the purchase of new seeds, literacy, and training in accounting, associationism, leadership and associative responsibility; they also received advice from agro-economist experts who improved the productivity of the orchard thanks to a change in the design of its operation.

In this area of Africa, educational projects are also being developed for women where aspects such as psychomotor skills, reading, writing, support in the classrooms for passing the course; computer classes aimed at high school students; vocational training and university scholarships, which allow these women to complete their education and have better career prospects.

The Isuku Hose project in Rwanda has incorporated the women of the cooperatives as transforming agents of the communities for the socio-economic promotion project "Dukore Tujye Imbere".  Hygiene and sanitation aspects in Kamonyi district are being worked with.

Promoting the rights of women from nomadic pastoralist populations is the aim of another project we are developing in Africa. This time in Somalia. It is a way of improving women's access to economic means, through the creation of savings and credit cooperatives, as well as two meat cooperatives. The aim is for them to have economic autonomy.

In the south of Quito, Ecuador, as a result to a project in collaboration with the Casa Matilde Foundation, victims of gender violence have comprehensive assistance, not only in legal or medical aspects to overcome psychological violence, but also physical violence (38%), sexual violence (25.7%) and finally patrimonial violence (16.7%).

We have more projects underway. And also the conviction that this 8M will be transcendental. Because, there are the indicators and the stubborn reality, the world is not yet violet. That is why from medicusmundi we invite, for the health of all, women and men, men and women, to take the great leap together. And to erase the gap together.

Source: Federation of Medicus Mundi Spain, Teresa Rosario

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