Revisiting choice: gender, culture and privatized health care in Uganda

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Neo-liberal reformers of health care assume that accessing health care in a privatized health care system is a matter of choice. However, choices are mediated through an array of social relationships, which are in turn determined by culture. Culture, in many settings, is often the blueprint for social relations, determining appropriate masculine and feminine roles and identities. Simply introducing user fees to expand health care options is not enough to change the gender roles and identities pertaining to health care access and provision. Using gender roles and identities in the context of user fees, this focus highlights the extent to which health care processes are gendered. It demonstrates that culture interacts with, mediates and even modifies what would appear as a market process of ‘free’ choice of health care. It shows that, while women are able to identify openings within culture, which they can use to further their own agenda, culture is also capable of permeating new policies and strategies to the disadvantage of women.
Gender, Gender roles, Masculinity, Femininity, Culture, Household, Household headship, Choice, Health, Health user fees
Sarah N Ssali Master of Arts Degree in Women and Gender Studies (2006) Revisiting choice: gender, culture and privatised health care in Uganda, Agenda, 20:68, 42-53, DOI: 10.1080/10130950.2006.9674721