NUMS Department of Psychology under its Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities held a session titled “Unpacking Contemporary Issues in Gender and Health” at NUMS Seminar Hall, PWD Campus on January 6th, 2023. The event was organized by BS-Psychology students of Semester 3 taking the course “Gender and Health” facilitated by Ms. Taskeen Mansoor (Lecturer-Anthropology at NUMS). The guest speakers included Dr. Sawera Mansoor, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Foundation University Medical College and Ms. Wardah Zakir who have expertise in gender and development.
With the aim to sensitize the audience, the students, as part of their course projects, displayed creative posters, videos and presentations on topics like Digital World and Cyber-Harassment from a Gender Lens, Reclaiming Fatherhood, De-stigmatizing Child Sexual Abuse and How Masculinity Harms Men. The students highlighted the misplaced assumption that masculinity is always a privilege and shared how toxic masculine expectations like “men don’t feel pain, men don’t cry.” Consequently mental and social wellbeing issues for men are reflected later in the life cycle. It was discussed that virtual presence is central in this age of social media and both men and women are vulnerable to cyber-harassment but digital literacy can pave way for a safe and responsible use of emerging information and communication technologies. Students commented on the lack of researche and focus on fatherhood and comparing different generations of fathers, they encouraged the audience to think of how males also transition to become fathers.
Invited guest speakers who were specialists in the field of gender and mental health lauded the efforts of students. Talking about the need to understand gender differences in the presentation of mental health symptoms, Dr. Sawera Mansoor shared how males externalize stress in the form of aggression whereas females internalize it with physical symptoms like headache or stomach ache. Furthering the discussion on preference of male or female physician for mental health issues, she shared examples of how male patients sometimes specifically request for female psychiatrists as they feel comfortable talking about issues concerning sexual and reproductive health and wife abuse. These topics are otherwise considered a challenge to masculinity and therefore remain un-disclosed to the same gender for fear of ridicule.
Ms.Wardah Zakir appreciated the level of knowledge and sensitization of psychology students towards gender and social issues. She specifically commended the students’ focus on contemporary issues like unexplored domain of masculinity. Highlighting the influential role of media in socialization around ideas of masculinity and femininity, Ms. Wardah shared how there has been a positive shift in the portrayal of gender and instead of stereotypical roles for men and women, we have many examples of gender sensitive content from advertisements, dramas and movies, that depict multiple acceptable forms of femininities and masculinities.
The Head of Department of Psychology, Prof. Dr.Shazia Khalid thanked the guest speakers and presented them NUMS souvenir as a token of appreciation. The session ended with an informal networking over refreshments.