A minority group is a sociological category within a demographic. Rather than a relational "social group", as the term would indicate, the term refers to a category that is differentiated and defined by the social majority, that is, those who hold the majority of positions of social power in a society. The differentiation can be based on one or more observable human characteristics, including, for example, ethnicity, race, gender, wealth or sexual orientation. Usage of the term is applied to various situations and civilizations within history, despite its popular mis-association with a numerical, statistical minority. In the social sciences, the term "minority" is used to refer to categories of persons who hold few positions of social power.
The term "minority group" often occurs alongside a discourse of civil rights and collective rights which gained prominence in the 20th century. Members of minority groups are prone to different treatment in the countries and societies in which they live. This discrimination may be directly based on an individual's perceived membership of a minority group, without consideration of that individual's personal achievement. It may also occur indirectly, due to social structures that are not equally accessible to all. Activists campaigning on a range of issues may use the language of minority rights, including student rights, consumer rights and animal rights.
One in three South Asian, West Asian or Arab women - one of the fastest growing segments of Canada's population - say they have trouble accessing a doctor to address an urgent health concern or to monitor health problems. The findings, from a new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences (ICES), finds this group and immigrant women and men are at a significant disadvantage compared to Canadian-born individuals when it comes to finding a doctor, getting an appointment and accessing specialists for their health-care needs.
"Ensuring all Ontarians have equal access to care is important if we want to improve the health and well-being of men and women across the province," says Arlene Bierman, a physician at St. Michael's Hospital and principal investigator of the study, entitled Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER). "Statistics Canada estimates by 2031, the country's visible minority population will double, with South Asians forming the largest visible minority group. We need to be able to better serve the growing health-care needs of this community and reduce barriers to care to improve health outcomes," added Dr. Bierman, also an ICES investigator.
The POWER (the Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-Based Report) study - a joint study from St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) - is the first in the province to provide a comprehensive overview of women's health in relation to gender, income, education, ethnicity and geography. The findings are detailed in the report titled Access to Care-the seventh chapter to be released as part of the study. Findings can be used by policymakers and health-care providers to improve access, quality and outcomes of care for Ontario women. The POWER Study was funded by Echo: Improving Women's Health in Ontario, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.