Gender Disadvantage and Reproductive Health Risk Factors

Two major determinants women’s health in developing countries are gender disadvantage and reproductive health. This paper tries to define the association of factors indicative of gender disadvantage and reproductive health with the risk of common mental disorders (CMDs) in women. Common mental disorders (CMDs) are depressive and anxiety disorders that are typically encountered in community and primary care settings. We use the term gender to refer to the distinguishing features of men and women that are socially constructed. Gender influences the control men and women have over the determinants of their health, including their economic position and social status, access to resources, and treatment in society.

One of the major gender disadvantage is gender-based violence. Domestic violence is extremely common in South Asia, especially in India, where some surveys show that up to a third of married women report physical violence from their husbands, and that violence is strongly associated with lack of autonomy in decision making. There is established evidence linking domestic violence with an adverse effect on women’s mental health in rich and poor countries. This study demonstrates that the experience of unwanted sex, although relatively infrequent, is strongly associated with CMDs. Pain or bleeding during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia) was also strongly associated with CMDs. However the paper did not explore the context of this symptom, it is plausible that the complaint is linked to the experience of sexual violence.


Patel, V., Kirkwood, B. R., Pednekar, S., Pereira, B., Barros, P., Fernandes, J. & Mabey, D. (2006). Gender disadvantage and reproductive health risk factors for common mental disorders in women: a community survey in India. Archives of general psychiatry63(4), 404-413.

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