Return to HDC Program

Session 1: 10:00 AM - 12:00PM


Moderated by Dr. Julia Kowalski, Assistant Professor of Global Affairs

Noah Stanton, Vanderbilt University
Mother Nature Meets Modern Woman: An Exploration of Environment, Gender, and Urbanism Among Delhi's Middle Class

While the majority of Indian women once engaged in agricultural labor, maintaining a close environmental connection that transcended across institutions, India’s pursuit of industrial development ushered new generations of women into densely-packed, metropolitan centers, where they now lead entirely different lives. Using an ecofeminist framework, this qualitative study attempts to understand how these urban women perceive, imagine, and interact with nature in the face of not only their increasingly unnatural surroundings but also the deteriorating state of the environment as a whole. Interviews conducted with seven middle-class Delhiites and one urban farming expert reveal a contradictory combination of both traditional and modern perspectives on development, urbanization, environmentalism, women’s empowerment, and material consumption. Responses show that nature, though its access is restricted across socio-economic strata, still holds a prominent role in the lives and imaginations of the female urban class. Health and pollution emerge as key environmental concerns among this demographic, leading many to undertake conservation efforts on the individual level, yet larger consumption patterns go unrecognized. The subjects view nature through a gendered lens and rely on it for numerous forms of personal benefit, but they draw upon aspects of modernization and progress for empowerment. Results thus indicate that India’s middle-class, metropolitan women ultimately perceive both Western development and the environment favorably, despite the former’s exploitation of the latter.

Tatiana Silva, University of Notre Dame
Analyzing the Effects of Law on Obstetric Care in Argentina

Despite the fact that it is experienced by women around the world, obstetric violence is an issue that exists largely in the dark. Obstetric violence can be broadly defined as “violence experienced by women during facility-based childbirth” (UN). The term is often not formally recognized by governmental institutions; however, a handful of Latin American countries have incorporated obstetric violence into their legal framework. Argentina is one of the pioneers of this movement, when in 2009 it enacted a law that criminalizes obstetric violence. As of 2018, there had been no comprehensive evaluation of the law and its effects in improving women’s experiences in obstetric care. Previous research indicates that organized health institutions have a history of denying individualized healthcare to women, and in the process, disregard and disrespect their voices—a situation that can lead to incidents of obstetric violence. This research aims to critically investigate this topic by analyzing the factors that impact a woman’s sense of autonomy and dignity in receiving obstetric care, such as feelings of security or vulnerability in clinical settings, comfort-level in vocalizing concerns to health professionals, physicians’ perceived respect for patients, and patient knowledge of medical treatments. 236 survey responses were compiled from women in Argentina who were either currently pregnant or had been pregnant within the last 10 years, and were analyzed using SPSS Statistics. The results indicate a disconnect between health professionals and their patients in regulating this law. This finding has critical implications for international development because if women do not feel safe in seeking obstetric care from organized health institutions such as hospitals or clinics, the risk of maternal mortality and serious complications in pregnancy could increase.

Grace Zhang, University of Notre Dame
Expanding Surgical Care in Fiji: Developing a National Surgical Obstetric and Anesthesia Plan (NSOAP)

The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery (LCoGS) estimates that five billion people in the world do not have access to safe, affordable surgical and anesthesia care, with this lack of access disproportionately affecting lower and middle-income countries (LMICs). Safe and reliable surgery is a critical component in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The development of National Surgical, Obstetric, and Anaesthesia Plans (NSOAPs) arose as a recommended tool by the LCoGS to scale up surgical, anesthesia, and obstetrics (SAO) care with a coordinated approach and integration into national health system plans. My research with the Harvard Medical School’s Program for Global Surgery and Social Change (PGSSC) assisted Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MOHMS) in the development of their NSOAP from June 2020 to early 2021. A situational analysis was conducted with the aim of gathering all existing relevant information and identifying current gaps in Fiji’s current surgical system. More than 28 semi-structured interviews with key surgical stakeholders and quantitative facility assessment survey tools of three bell-weather hospitals were completed. Our findings of this ongoing study indicate that gaps in supply chain management, senior-level specialist expertise and nursing workforce, electronic record-keeping, and financial constraints, etc. continue to exist as barriers to the surgical system. These results allow the Ministry of Health and various surgical stakeholders to establish objectives, targets, and evaluation metrics for their NSOAP, which will ultimately promote health systems strengthening and the movement towards Universal Health Coverage.