This article explores emerging themes from the first stage of ethnographic research investigating pregnancy and loss in Qatar. Issues around the development of foetal personhood, the medical management of the pregnant body and the social role of the pregnant woman are explored. Findings suggest that Qatari women are expected to be calm vessels for their growing baby and should avoid certain foods and behaviours. These ideas of risk avoidance are linked to indigenous knowledge around a mother’s influence on a child’s health and traits. Motherhood holds a particularly important place in Qatari culture and in Islam, and women are ultimately responsible for protecting and promoting fertility and for producing healthy children.
Cultural Expectations of Pregnant Women in Qatar
Susie Kilshaw, Daniel Miller, Halima Al Tamimi, Faten El-Taher, Mona Mohsen, Nadia Omar, Stella Major and Kristina Sole
The Case of Female Suitcase Traders
This article assesses the social factors that influence the health of female suitcase traders and the health risks related to the trade as an occupation. The findings indicate that it is imperative to study the health of small-scale traders within the framework of occupational health. Suitcase trade is widespread in both developing countries and the post-Soviet region, and recognising it as an occupation makes it possible to research related health issues. This in turn can lead to the discovery of specific patterns regarding health risks and the treatment of typical illnesses of suitcase traders, thus facilitating comparison with other occupational health research. The article examines existing barriers to health for women in Central Asia and summarises the quality and content of the treatment that is available.
Heather A. Came
Glenn Laverack (2013) Health activism: Foundations and strategies, London: Sage Publications, pp. 175, ISBN: 978-1-4462-4964-2.
As a long-time public health activist I was pleased to see Laverack’s new book focussing on health activism. To date, there have been only a handful of texts available suitable for tertiary students, the most notable being Cwikel’s (2006) substantial work. The bulk of health activist texts consist of speciality texts about women’s health, HIV/AIDS activism and the ongoing fight against big tobacco. Laverack’s text serves its purpose in addressing a gap in the market for a generic introduction to public health activism.
Claudia Mitchell and Jacqueline Reid-Walsh
It has been forty years since the feminist classic on women’s health and sexuality, Our Bodies, Our Selves was published. Available first in 1971 and then produced commercially in 1973 (revised, re-issued and, as of October 2011, in its ninth printing), Our Bodies, Our Selves, published by the Boston Women’s Collective, was regarded by many girls and women in the 1970s and 1980s as the book that changed their relationship to their own bodies and to their own health. And indeed, it set the stage for a revisioning of the questions: “Whose bodies?” and “Whose voices?” in health research, and could be regarded as a precursor to such works as Sandra Harding’s (1991) Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Women’s Lives.
A Report on the Women Deliver Conference, Kuala Lumpur 2013
Margaret MacDonald, Debra Pascali Bonaro and Robbie Davis-Floyd
This past May a major international conference called Women Deliver took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Women Deliver is a relatively new but significant force in the international reproductive health arena. Since its first conference in 2007 in London with 1,500 attending, it has rapidly grown in size and reputation. The second conference took place in Washington DC in 2010 with 3,000 attendees. Women Deliver Kuala Lumpur was the biggest conference of the decade devoted to women’s and girl’s health and well-being; it brought together 4,500 people from hundreds of organisations in 149 countries around the world, including heads of state, ministers of health and women’s issues, major UN agency representatives, non-governmental organisations, scientists and scholars, major donors (including Melinda Gates and Chelsea Clinton), mainstream media, youth, filmmakers and even royalty.
Carroll L. Estes
In the United States, social policy debate concerning the elderly has, for almost two decades, been permeated by the rhetoric of crisis and attacks on the entitlement programmes that provide the backbone of support for older persons. Based on demographics alone, with older women outliving and outnumbering older men, ageing is appropriately defined as a gender issue and, in important respects, a women’s issue. Corroborating this view, Dr Robert Butler, former director of the National Institute on Aging, recently described the U.S. health programmes for the elderly, Medicare and Medicaid, as ‘women’s programs’ for the very old (Butler, 1996).
Oregon Women Continue to Encounter Delays in Medicaid Coverage for Abortion
Women in poverty experience greater delays in the process of seeking abortion. Timely access to both safe abortion care and early prenatal care reduces morbidity and mortality among pregnant women. This article examines the impacts of a policy change intended to facilitate poor women's applications for pregnancy-related Medicaid (a federally funded, state-administered health coverage programme for the poorest Americans), in Oregon (Western U.S.). The mixed-methods data from this applied anthropology study demonstrate that though health coverage waiting times grew shorter on average, poor women and the clinic staff who cared for them continued to perceive delays in obtaining Medicaid coverage for abortion. Implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the U.S.A. (aka Obama-care) is now thought to be contributing to a return to greater delays in accessing prenatal care and abortion. More research and advocacy are needed to improve access to reproductive health care through state Medicaid programmes.
Black Trans and Queer Women's Digital Media Production
This article explores Black trans and queer women’s use of digital media platforms to create alternate representations of themselves through a process that addresses health and healing beyond the purview of the biomedical industrial complex. These activities include trans women of color using Twitter to build networks of support and masculine of center people creating their own digital health zine, two projects that value the propagation of crowd-sourced knowledge and the creation of images that subvert dominant representations of their communities. I argue that this process of redefining representation interrupts the normative standards of bodily representation and health presented in popular and medical culture. My research connects the messages within the seemingly objective realm of biomedicine to the social contexts in which they emerge and are shared. By highlighting two examples where I see these connections being made, I shift attention to the images deployed to redefine representations within these liminal communities.
Mothers’ Reactions to Nutrition Programmes in Guatemala’s Dry Corridor
This article explores women’s reactions to public health nutrition work in Guatemala, looking specifically at multi-micronutrients, or sprinkles. This anthropological research was carried out in two rural communities in Chiquimula, one of which was in the Maya Ch’orti’ region, during the 2017 seasonal period of scarcity. Taking as a starting point the limitations of a medicalised approach to malnutrition, this article discusses how multi-micronutrients are ill-suited as a solution for child malnutrition in situations of precarity. Though they are designed to be physiologically effective in reducing nutrition deficiencies in the body, they appear less useful once socio-economic conditions are considered. Women’s experience with malnutrition emergencies will be explored to show how health decision-making must be understood in relation to their social context as well as to their expectations for the future.
The Challenges of Providing Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare to Men on College Campuses
Lilian Milanés and Joanna Mishtal
Scholarship and advocacy work regarding reproductive health have often focused on women’s experiences. Concerns about men’s sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) have historically been on the margins in this context. In the United States, young men are at the greatest risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), yet are the least likely to seek SRH. Based on research with 18 healthcare providers in a large public Florida university clinic, we examined providers’ perspectives about expanding men’s SRH provision and utilisation. Research findings demonstrate inconsistent provider strategies in treating men’s SRH needs and a clinical environment that has low expectations of men receiving preventive care, further perpetuating the placement of SRH responsibility upon women. This article contributes to applied and medical anthropology scholarship on health inequalities through its discussion of the challenges and barriers that contribute to poor SRH for young men and the critical role of providers in this context.