As many as 4.07 crore women have undergone breast screening for detection of its cancer, while 3.16 crore others were screened for cervical cancer under the Centre’s Ayushman Bharat Yojana, Union minister Smriti Irani said here on Sunday, and asked if the country has enough number of women specialist to work in this sector. The Minister for Women and Child Development also said that as many as 45 crore visits by women have been registered in the last two years at the health and wellness centers set up under Ayushman Bharat, the Centre’s health protection scheme, for primary health care. The sheer number of women beneficiaries under the Ayushman Bharat scheme shows why it is ”profitable to enhance the role of women in pharmacology and healthcare”, she said while speaking at the inaugural session of a national conference on ”Soaring heights of empowerment in pharma and healthcare industry”. ”Breast screening under Ayushman Bharat – especially remember this is for the poorest of the poor in our country – has been over four crores seven lakh. For screening of the cancer of the cervix, the number of women who get themselves screened under the Ayushman Bharat Yojana is 3.16 crore,” she said.
”Now tell me, ladies and gentlemen, do we have that many female specialists only in this one particular sector?” she asked. ”Look at us (women) as consumers, who want to ensure that we have the best of medical practices by women who lead out of sheer competence,” she said.
Irani also raised the issue of bias against women workers in the pharma and healthcare industry and said that only 11 percent of the workforce in the sector comprises women. Five percent of women are in sales and marketing, 12 percent in manufacturing, and 25 percent in corporate functions, she said.
”If we, the best and the brightest of minds, do not acknowledge the problem and do not address the elephant in the room, how are we then, irrespective of our gender, going to find the solution?” she asked. The minister lamented the absence of women participants at the conference and pointed out that only a few topics to be discussed during the event revolved around women.
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She also used the example of a woman professional from the sector who said that when she asks for an increment, her male counterpart gets it instead because he has to run a family.
”The bias is so deep-seated that educated people also practice that culture…Our bias , our prejudices, our fears are so deep-seated that we see women excel right before us and we still treat them with gloved hands,” she said. She also hailed the contribution of 6.6 million women who have contributed to the protection of the country during the pandemic, especially the female workers who conducted door-to-door surveys to collect samples, among other things.