It is not a secret that women are a marginalized community. Even in the twenty first century, women get paid less than men for identical work. All around the world, giving birth to a girl child is rarely celebrated in the same victorious vein as that of a male baby. The United States often referred to as the super power of the world, is yet to produce a female president. These are only a handful of examples of women occupying subordinate positions in relation to men. Unfortunately, however, this marginalization is only the beginning of a downward spiral. The already compromised station of women plummets even further when other marginalizations are present in their identity. To name a few, disabled women, poor women, women of color, lesbian women, earn further layers of otherness that consistently demote their agency. In this brief paper, a salient feature of womanhood is analyzed in relation to silence and erasure. More specifically, this paper explores healthcare pertaining to aboriginal women. The paper is intended to bolster the idea that in order to address the health status of aboriginal women, more basic tenets of womanhood and agency should be addressed first.
Jul et al. mention that“[w]hile First Nations, Inuit, and Métis women (“Aboriginal women”) share similarities with non- Aboriginal women living in Canada, their historical, legal, cultural, and socioeconomic circumstances set them apart as experiencing unique challenges” (Jul et al., 2015, P. 402). These unique challenges pertaining to multiple areas of life start when the aboriginal woman is in her childhood. Children are at the bottom end of the totem pole of agency, but when a girl child reaches adulthood, this lack of agency plummets even further. It is worthwhile to examine how the trajectory of agency shapes and reshapes a woman especially in relation to men. Dennis et al. mention that “[t]he disproportionately higher number of Aboriginal children in government care has been linked to Canada’s history of oppressive government policies that continue to disrupt Aboriginal families and communities (Blackstock et al. 2004, Trocm_e et al. 2004, Fluke et al. 2010, Bombay et al. 2011)” (Dennison et al., 2013, P. 1106). From this absence of power, men grow up to claim power, while women grow up to lose it even further.
It is important, of course, that proper provisions are made in legal documents. These provisions, however, cannot stop there. Often, there is a disconnect between legal provisions and their execution. As is legally required, on paper, the state of the aboriginal woman seems almost identical to the mainstream. The difference, however, lies in the execution of these legal provisions. Healthcare plans, needless to say, embrace the cultural differences of aboriginal women. However, in practice, the lack of agency of aboriginal women reaches a more dire circumstance: “The centrality of culture in the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is emphasised in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2013–23 ” (Lowell et al., 2015, P.6). Health plans could be impeccable, but their execution at the hands of flawed human beings could be an entirely different story. This is indeed why that a dismantling of age-old ideologies is needed to contribute to an indelible difference.
The silenced voice of aboriginal women can only be rejuvenated by compassionate and committed individuals. The roles of social workers and healthcare professionals is crucial in this respect. Without their much-needed efforts, the plight of the aboriginal women pertaining to healthcare cannot be remedied. As argued at the very outset of this paper, however, even the work of duty-conscious and compassionate professionals in healthcare and social work cannot be completed when demeaning ideologies are in place that might not be detectable outwardly.
As many scientists and researchers have pointed out, aboriginal women’s participation in community based programs is crucial in implementing much-need revisions to programs that are to benefit aboriginal women. When it comes to healthcare, however, aboriginal women alone cannot contribute exclusively to needed revisions. The roles of the program coordinators is vital: “The participation of community-based Aboriginal women in the Program and their control over Program activities is clearly crucial as is the support and advocacy role of Program Coordinators” (Lowell et al., 2015, P. 11). Even then, however, what is seen and heard cannot be treated with conclusive accuracy. This is where an emphatic revision of ideologies comes in. The mindset of people as applicable to basic tenets of equality has to be revised. Equality might seem almost simple on paper, but in actuality, the practice of it brings in the fallibility, injustice, and erroneousness of human beings. The legal provision can work in a courtroom, but resorting to litigation is not among the privileges of aboriginal women. To begin with, legal affairs take time as well as money.
The state of the aboriginal woman in relation to healthcare is on a steady decline. It is a situation that needs to be addressed with urgency and rigor. However, the efforts can essentially end in failure when fallible human beings are factored in. What needs to happen, therefore, is a reversal of denigrating ideologies, ideologies that are counter-productive to human beings’ advancement. The facts and figures are very clear in terms of how aboriginal women’s healthcare requires an urgent response. Many researchers, anthropologists, scientists, and social workers have greatly expressed the urgent need of attention to aboriginal women’s healthcare: “Research continues to show that Aboriginal people are the least healthy population in Canada, with Aboriginal women experiencing a disproportionate burden of ill-health compared to both Aboriginal men and other Canadian women (Dion Stout, Kipling and Stout 2001; cited in Browne 2007)” (Poudrier &Mac-Lean, P. 307). The ill-health of aboriginal women, unfortunately, cannot be rectified overnight. Even though a few solitary cases might be improved, in order to combat the general trend, gigantic societal perceptions need to be revised, corrected, dismantled, and erased.
In summation, this paper has established how healthcare of aboriginal women is a topic that requires urgent and rigorous attention. The paper has reviewed established scholarship, how women are already a marginalized community, and how being an aboriginal woman complicates this already compromised lack of agency. While programs to address the state of aboriginal women are important to assure them of solutions, the long-term solution to the problem can only be achieved through a systematic dismantling of denigrating ideologies. Aboriginal women connote a number of negative social constructions. They are women, they are women of color, and they are native.
My Research Hypothesis
Improving the station of aboriginal women as applicable to healthcare must essentially start at the grassroots level by dismantling denigrating societal ideologies.
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