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The Humanities Conference 2003

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Women, Poverty and HIV Transmission in India

Dr. Koumari Mitra.


This paper provides an anthropological perspective on the gender dimension of urban poverty in India and its implications for women's health. The focus will be to examine why women are more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and to analyse the role of poverty and gender in the mediation of diseases
Poverty is a key factor in global health problems and alleviation of poverty is a formidable challenge facing the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, extreme poverty is the greatest killer and cause of ill health and suffering throughout the world. When combined with economic and gender inequalities, it is responsible for more physical and mental ill health than any other cause. This paper provides an anthropological perspective on the gender dimension of urban poverty in India and its implications for women's health. Using HIV/AIDS as a disease model, the focus will be to examine why women are more vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases and to analyse the role of poverty and gender in the mediation of these diseases. According to recent estimates, the HIV infection has afflicted four million individuals (nearly one percent of India's adult population) and has spread to all states and union territories.
Being an underprivileged group within the urban poor, women suffer far more inequalities than men. Women from the poorer segments of Indian society are disadvantaged with respect to health care facilities and nutrition in comparison to men due to gender disparities and cultural inhibitions. In spite of their migration to the city for a better quality of life, urban poor women continue to be denied access to education, health and other services to a greater extent than urban poor men.

Presenters

Dr. Koumari Mitra  (Canada)
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
University of New Brunswick

I am a medical anthropologist. I teach biological anthropology, medical anthropology and area ethnography on south asia. My current research projects include cancer prevention and control in New Brunswick, Canada; and HIV/AIDS prevention and control in India.

Keywords
  • HIV/AIDS,
  • India,
  • Poverty,
  • Women's Health,
  • Gender Inequalities.



(30 min Conference Paper, English)