#Gender Fact

Pandemic Impact on Gender Equality Efforts : The Vaccine Story

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Undeniably, COVID-19 has become a part of our lives. Each time we feel we are near to finding it, a new variant strikes the world and all our efforts goes in vain. Lives are being risked and lost. The world has turned topsy-turvy under the poison of the pandemic. But even amidst this, what did not loosen its claws on us is the pandemic of gender inequality. It still pervades our lives even though the source of it is right there glaring at us.

Did you know that there is a gender gap in the number of vaccinated people? According to research, 3.5 crores fewer women have been vaccinated than men. What could be the reason behind this gap? Why is women’s health still not a concern in our society?

Ignorance towards women’s health

The major reason why leas women are going out to take vaccines is the general ignorance of women’s health. Women’s health is never seen as a priority in the family. Even though women are the caretakers of the family, they don’t take care of themselves. They ignore their health concerns and prioritise those of the family members, especially the male members. The gender gap in taking vaccines is not shocking because we have already been dealing with the gender gap in the number of people visiting the hospitals. As per research, In the year 2016, out of 2 lakh patients in AIIMS Delhi, male patients visited hospitals 1.69 times more than female patients. A study shows that 52 per cent of girls in India are absent in schools due to frequent illness.

Moreover, she also added, “Most women can’t afford to fall sick even for a day or two post-vaccination as there’s one in the family to take up their chores.” She said, “Ignorance is bliss for most of them. They feel or they are made to feel that they are immune because they have healthy homebirths.”

But women are conditioned to not value their individualities. In the episode of SheThePeople’s Sisterhood, Navya Naveli Nanda commented on how women have been conditioned to ignore their health. She says, “Women don’t necessarily prioritise their health care when it comes to family settings, It is always the health of the child, the health of the husband, the health of the overall household that primarily comes before the health of the women themselves. And I think this stems from the act that women are so used to having their bodies controlled by everyone else but themselves.

But what about other people in the family? Why do they ignore women’s health? Why can’t they accompany women to hospitals or vaccination centres? In our society, such places and families still exist where women are not allowed to go out without a male member accompanying them. This is usually the case in rural areas where vaccination centres are too far for women to reach alone. But if male members are reluctant to care for the health of women, how will women get equal access to health care centres?

The confusion created around vaccines and lack of information

What also explains the lack of women in vaccination centres is the confusion created around whether menstruating, pregnant and or lactating women can take vaccination or not. Speaking to SheThePeople, Dr Sudeshna Ray said that fear of fertility issues, fear of menstrual problems are some of the reasons why women don’t take vaccines.

As Dr Suruchi Desai told SheThePeople, “Absolutely no medical scientific data says that your fertility will be affected by vaccine.”

Moreover as Dr Yuvrajsingh Jadeja told us, “Vaccine and periods are not related. Suppose you got hurt or bit by a dog. Will you not take Rabies or Tetanus vaccine because you are on period. Same is for COVID-19. Being on period and COVID-19 vaccine lowering your immunity is not true.”
Even though the idea that menstruating women are debarred from vaccination is only a myth, many women are afraid of taking vaccines. There is no source of information available for women, especially from rural areas.

But it is high time now that we start encouraging and taking women to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots. The pandemic is not over yet. It is still waiting at the door for us to be careless so that it can devour maximum lives. So everyone needs to be protected from the fatal virus. And everyone includes women too.