If we as physicians seek to maintain, restore and protect the health of those we serve then we need to understand the links between gender, poverty and health.
Gender is a determinant of health
Gender is a determinant of wealth
Wealth (or lack of it) is a determinant of health
Health is a determinant of wealth
Our gender roles, the expectations society places on us, the expectations we place on ourselves and our ability to attain these are all economically mediated. In a world where 70% of the world’s poor are women and in Canada, a country where most families in poverty are headed by women, gender is a risk factor for poverty. And while health is a human right, it is still a right that is more available to the affluent. We cannot unlink gender-health-poverty, nor can we look at any determinant of health in isolation.
As physicians we have the opportunity to take these things into account, to allow understanding the influences of gender and poverty on health and to help us provide better care. As physicians we have a responsibility to take action and to work to lessen the impact of gender and poverty on health on individual and population levels.
We hope this module has made you more aware that gender, poverty and health are linked - across the life cycle and around the world.