Rosella C. Bahni,
Maria Visitacion P. Molintas,
University of the Philippines, Baguio City Department of Health - CAR
The issue of gender in the Cordillera has generated interest and debate among groups, those in health development included. Some quarters contend that there are no gender inequalities among indigenous groups in the Cordillera since the Cordillera people successfully resisted Spanish feudal conquest.On the other hand recent studies based on actual field experiences establish that gender biases and stereotypes do exist among Cordillera indigenous groups.
According to findings, these gender biases derived from Western incursions and influences; the subsequent intermingling of rural-urban and highland-lowland cultures; the intrusion capitalism into the local traditional economy and the current trend of globalization highlight biological differences between the sexes perpetuate the patriarchal character of indigenous families, communities, establish gender-based knowledge, attitudes and practices that subject women to a "double day" life situation.
The purpose of the study is to understand from the context of the communities' particular conditions and a holistic perspective health, the health consequences of gender-based knowledge attitudes and practices. It also seeks to validate previous findings on the existence of gender issues in the Cordillera.
Gender bias manifests itself in Cordillera indigenous communities as a factor affecting the determinants of health, but those on the level of the individual(health behaviors and lifestyle and those which are largely external (living conditions). Inequities in health are thereby created by the gender gap in terms of gender roles and images that influence men and women's access to health resources. Viewed from a holistic perspective, however inequalities in health status between groups and even between men and women are largely traceable to social differentials, e.g. financial status and size of family, educational attainment,employment and working conditions, quality of health services and physical environment. Gender biases make daily doubly hard for women even when they are already weighed on with socio-economic problems. Similarly, socio-economic factors heighten gender inequalities.
The study revolves around two main themes. The first main theme deals with Gender-Based Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices. It has four sub-themes: 1) Gender-Based Division and Sharing of Work which crucially determines the extent of access and control over health resources; 2) Access to and Control of Health Resources (i.e., time, income, skills/ information, decision-making, land, social services) which set health behavioral patterns and lifestyles that impact much on health. Study variables, like gender, civil status and nature of work, have bearings on the division and sharing of work and may enhance or hinder access to and control of health resources. Other variables are revealed, like size of family, number and ages of children, physical location of residence and workplace; 3) General Impressions and Perceptions About Men and Women (on family planning, violence against women or VAW, manhood and womanhood and sexuality) which set roles in production, reproduction and community; health behaviors and lifestyles that consequently impinge on the utilization of health resources; and 4) Health-Seeking Behaviors that influence decisions, options and choices with regards to health opportunities and resources.
The second main theme is on the Health Consequences of Gender-Based Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices, with the following as its sub-themes: 1) Health Problems which are biological and work-related arising from men and women's exposure to health risks; 2) Unequal Access to and Control of Health Resources which bring about unhealthy lifestyles and living conditions that may lead to health problems; and 3) Health-Seeking Behaviors which maybe positive or negative responses to health problems and inequalities in the utilization of health resources.