Women's Health Perceptions: A Necessary Approach to an Understanding of Health and Well-Being, Monographs in Reproductive Health, No. 2, the Population Council, 1996.

This paper focuses on the importance of the health perceptions of women in Arab countries of the Middle East, as well as Turkey and Iran. Specifically, the study asks how women understand and experience their own health and ill health, and how the personal, social, cultural and political contexts of their lives shape these experiences. The paper reviews key theoretical concepts from medical anthropology on women’s health perceptions, with specific examples from the region. The author states that by understanding how women view their own health, we can understand their health-seeking behavior, or lack of it. Thus, anthropologists and physicians and other health practitioners need to see women not just as a vessel for disease, but a person with a health problem. The paper also addresses the relevance of women’s health perceptions to their ideals of strength, worth, beauty and dignity. The paper concludes by emphasizing the importance of the contexts in which women live: the depth and breadth of their experiences which determine their health perceptions.
Author(s): Hania Sholkamy  
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