Feminist theory can be defined as the focus of the interaction and experiences of women and girls within society. They ask about the role of gender, the idea we as a society hold about gender, and our gender behaviors in all situations. Some of the questions asked by feminist theorist include, “how does gender impact the situation?” and, “is there inequality present due specifically gender?” along with others. Today, the theory uses intersectionality to analyze these inequalities in more depth (ANP 270 1.6). We can look at the inequalities that exist because of one’s gender, and how this has an affect on their lives and health. These inequalities that arise because of gender cause many negative affects on the individuals in society. An example is how these inequities can impact a women health, and more specifically, mental health. Gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. Gender determines the differential power and control men and women have over the socioeconomic determinants of their mental health and lives, their social position, status and treatment in society and their susceptibility and exposure to specific mental health risks. Depression, anxiety, psychological distress, sexual violence, domestic violence and escalating rates of substance use affect women to a greater extent than men across different countries and different settings. Pressures created by their multiple roles, gender discrimination and associated factors of poverty, hunger, malnutrition, overwork, domestic violence and sexual abuse, combine to account for women’s poor mental health. There is a positive relationship between the frequency and severity of such social factors and the frequency and severity of mental health problems in women. Severe life events that cause a sense of loss, inferiority, humiliation or entrapment can predict depression (WHO 2013).
Mental illness is a worldwide issue. We can see how it impacts an individual’s life and why.
India is located in southern Asia, bordering the Arabian sea and the Bay of Bengal. It lies between Burma and Pakistan, with a population of roughly 1.2 billion. It lies the world’s largest democracy and governed by Bharatiya Janata Party which holds power in 14 states, comprising 68% of India’s population (World Bank). According to CNN, India is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women. This is because of the high risk of sexual violence and slave labor, along with forced marriage and other issues (Dewaan 2018). One of these issues include mental health. In an article by Savita Malhortra titled,”Women and Mental Health in India Overview”, the topic of how mental health affects women is discussed. She writes that, “Gender is a critical determinant of mental health and mental illness. The patterns of psychological distress and psychiatric disorder among women are different from those seen among men. Women have a higher mean level of internalizing disorders while men show a higher mean level of externalizing disorders…. Social factors and gender specific factors determine the prevalence and course of mental disorders in female sufferers. Low attendance in hospital settings is partly explained by the lack of availability of resources for women. Around two-thirds of married women in India were victims of domestic violence.” (Malhortra 2015). As one can see, mental illness is a very prominent issue in India. There are many things that contribute to the high occurrence of mental health disorders in women located in this region. These factors include the role of a women in society, domestic abuse, substance abuse, and others. By utilizing the feminist theory, we can look at what factors specifically can contribute to the high number of mental health issues in India.
Dewan, Angela. “India Most Dangerous Nation for Women, US Ranks 10th in Survey.” CNN. June 26, 2018. Accessed July 27, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/25/health/india-dangerous-country-women-survey-intl/index.html.
“Gender and Women’s Mental Health.” World Health Organization. June 24, 2013. Accessed August 04, 2018. http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/genderwomen/en/.
Malhotra, Savita, and Ruchita Shah. “Women and Mental Health in India: An Overview.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry 57, no. 6 (July 2015): 205. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.161479.