Health: a right or an obligation? Does it necessarily involve recurrent, regular and continuous use of medicine? But which medicine? Medicalizing healthy bodies in order to protect us against any risk, any disease, any degeneration… all this at what price for society, for individuals, for the environment?
These questions concern us all… and all. For women, their reproductive processes and their life cycles, the question also arises in a context of male domination. Will this situation change in the coming years, given the feminization of the medical professions? It’s hard to answer yes with certainty!
Without denying the significant advances in women’s health that have been made thanks to medical science, it is necessary to ask ourselves the question of the proper use of these discoveries. Have we managed to establish a constructive dialogue on this last aspect with the main stakeholders, the women?
These questions are the subject of much reflection. In Belgium, they are conducted in particular within the Platform for the Promotion of Women’s Health(1). The members of this platform share among other objectives promoting the autonomy and responsibility of women and men. Within this space for reflection and action, a critical reading of the issues related to women’s health is being developed, and actions are being taken to denounce the single-mindedness and one-size-fits-all solutions proposed by the dominant health systems, which are often guided by market interests and logics, leaving little or no room for the expression of women’s expectations, desires and needs.
Through this dossier, which gathers reflections from several members of the Platform, we wanted to highlight the facets of women’s health that are subject to a sometimes violent and yet trivialized over-medicalization: fertility control, childbirth and the end of menstruation.
For each of these three themes, the critical reading also contains alternatives, other ways of doing things, that exist and are practiced. So that the analysis can lead to something better than what is criticized, which invites the readers.
Finally, we offer you the opportunity to discover the summaries of two studies, one on the mammotest and the other on the vaccination campaign against the human papillomavirus. Two medical practices that are taken for granted and promoted by the public authorities, yet they raise many questions for women’s health.
A file to share without moderation!
Paola Hidalgo, coordinator of the file.
Paola Hidalgo is delegated to the socio-political communication at Bruxelles Laïque: www.bxllaique.be/