Sexual and reproductive health a COVID-19 priority (Statement)

Burnet Institute, 28 May, 2020

Burnet Institute is a member of a consortium of Australian-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and academic institutes concerned about the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls globally.

The International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium, which includes Save the Children, Family Planning NSW, CARE Australia, The Nossal Institute for Global Health, and Médecins Sans Frontières Australia, is calling on the Australian Government to prioritise the needs of women and girls in its response to COVID-19.

Collectively, the consortium works across 160 countries to champion universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

It’s concerned that women and girls across the globe are struggling to access critical sexual and reproductive health care, citing evidence that COVID-19 lockdowns are likely to cause millions of unplanned pregnancies.

In the Pacific, travel to rural and remote areas have been curtailed, and physical distancing requirements have forced the cancellation of most group training on sexual and reproductive rights.

A recent UNFPA report determined that a six-month lockdown could mean 47 million women and girls globally cannot access contraception, and seven million will become pregnant.

The consortium has issued a joint statement setting out priorities to ensure Australia’s global response to COVID-19 meets the critical needs of all women and girls, including:

  • Recognise and respond to the gendered impacts of the pandemic, and the increased risk to women and girls from gender-based violence and other harmful practices
  • Improve the supply of contraceptives and menstrual health products which are being impacted by the strain and disruption on global supply chains
  • Increase flexibility in delivering sexual and reproductive health services during lockdown using innovative health delivery models such as task-sharing, tele-health and pharmacy distribution
  • Support sexual and reproductive health workers and clinics to continue delivering services sagely with access to personal protective equipment as well as training on how to refer, test or diagnose COVID-19.

 

COVID-19: A Gender Lens – sexual & reproductive health and gender inequality

UN Population Fund (UNFPA), March 2020

Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently, and pandemics make existing inequalities for women and girls and discrimination of other marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities and those in extreme poverty, worse. This needs to be considered, given the different impacts surrounding detection and access to treatment for women and men.

Women represent 70 percent of the health and social sector workforce globally and special attention should be given to how their work environment may expose them to discrimination, as well as thinking about their sexual and reproductive health and psychosocial needs as frontline health workers

Women on temporary visas experiencing family violence face additional complex barriers to seeking help

inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence, March 11th, 2020

CEO of inTouch, Ms Michal Morris, today released a position paper on women on temporary visas who are experiencing family violence. The paper urges the government to implement eight recommendations in order to improve supports and services for these vulnerable women.

‘I believe that all women who experience family violence in Australia should have access to the full suite of support services and be safe. Visa status should not be a factor, nor should living in destitution. Today, the government is issuing more temporary visas than ever before. Because of this we are only going to see more women in need and more gaps in services’, said Ms Morris.

Respect@Work: Sexual Harassment National Inquiry Report

Australian Human Rights Commission, March 2020

This Inquiry examined the nature and prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces, the drivers of this harassment and measures to address and prevent sexual harassment.

Since 2003, the Australian Human Rights Commission has conducted four periodic
surveys on the national experience of sexual harassment. The most recent survey showed that sexual harassment in Australian workplaces is widespread and pervasive.

One in three people experienced sexual harassment at work in the past five years.

Underpinning this aggregate figure is an equally shocking reflection of the
gendered and intersectional nature of workplace sexual harassment. As the 2018
National Survey revealed, almost two in five women (39%) and just over one in
four men (26%) have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in the past
five years. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were more likely to have
experienced workplace sexual harassment than people who are non-Indigenous (53%
and 32% respectively).

Female genital cutting (FGC) & cervical screening: A guide for practitioners

CANCER COUNCIL VICTORIA & WOMEN’S HEALTH WEST FARREP
PROGRAM, First published 2017

The World Health Organization defines female genital cutting (FGC) as ‘all procedures that include partial or total removal of female genital organs or other injury to female genital organs for non-medical reasons’.

‘Female genital mutilation’ is the term used in Australian and Victorian legislation, but the preferred way to refer to the practice using culturally sensitive language is ‘female circumcision’ or ‘traditional cutting’. The age at which this occurs varies from infancy to 15 years.

The practice is referred to as FGC throughout this document.

This 2-page guideline document includes facts about prevalance, type, appropriate questioning, examination technique, and more.

 

Tough man stereotype can hurt women and men: report

Our Watch, November 2019

Men who conform only to rigid stereotypes of how to be a man are more likely to have sexist attitudes and behaviours, which in turn makes them more likely to perpetuate violence against women, according to a new report by Our Watch and the Victorian Office for Women.

The landmark study, Men in focus, is an extensive review of Australian and international research evidence on the topic, which aims to build a deeper understanding of masculinity, as well as providing guidance for those working with men and boys to prevent violence against women.