Reproduction and childbirth are these aspects of human health that are central in international women’s health discourse. HIV/AIDS and complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death among women in developing countries. These are often due to the limited access to contraception and unsafe sex. The latter may lead to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and even death due to a social and cultural stigma or inadequate health care. Violence is an additional risk factor when it comes to women’s health. Apart from physical, it leaves a trace on mental health and may also lead to chronic health problems.
Why are health systems failing women?
The reasons behind it are often complex but relate closely to the biases and inequalities between men and women when it comes to the access to health care. One of the obstacles is the financial restrictions faced by women who are unemployed or involved in low-paid informal employment with no health benefits. In developed countries where most of the healthcare, including maternal, is privatized, women simply cannot afford it. The waiting lists for public health system are often ridiculously long and not in the position to offer needed help on time. Paradoxically, women constitute the largest part of health systems that themselves remain unresponsive to their needs. Women’s role as primary caregivers in the family, especially in the informal setting and as health-care providers is largely unrecognized and unsupported by governments.