Interplay of Gender Inequities, Poverty and Caste: Implications for Health of Women in the Cashew Industry of Kerala


  • Thresia C.U. Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology


social determinants of health, gender, social class, caste


Kerala has achieved remarkable improvements in the social sectors despite having a low economy. Yet, beyond the face value of averages, this article argues that, improvements in quality of life of people are not distributed uniformly across gender, social class and caste. Often cultural perceptions and meanings of health and development discourses vary across different sections of the society. Exploration of the life of cashew processing women workers unravel myriad tribulations including higher levels of illiteracy, poverty, morbidity, fertility, gender based violence, caste based inequities, and lack of access to health care and political support. Unequal gender power relations get formatted in the larger matrix of structural inequities, hampering the health of women. Therefore in order to improve the health conditions of women conventional biomedical discourses are inadequate. Social and structural factors determining the health of women have to be addressed, beyond the health sector. Strengthening the public provision of health and social services with active involvement of various participants, particularly woman, is a necessary precondition for improving the quality of health care and life. Yet, the neoliberal initiatives underway in the health sector which strengthens privatisation will further endanger the already weakened public health scenario in the state

Author Biography

Thresia C.U., Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology

Achutha Menon Centre for Health Science Studies, Senior Research Fellow






Original Research