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

New resource: LGBTI R U OK? Conversation Guide

National LGBTI Health Alliance and R U OK?,  February 2020

“Life can be challenging, and we all need support during times of grief, loss, relationship breakdown and when we’re under work or financial pressure. On top of this, LGBTI people might be subject to prejudice, stigma, discrimination, harassment, and violence.” 

National LGBTI Health Alliance has collaborated with R U OK? to produce this LGBTI guide which was released just in time for the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Snapshot of mental health and suicide prevention statistics for LGBTI people

The National LGBTI Health Alliance (The Alliance), February 2020

Although many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) Australians live healthy and happy lives, research has demonstrated that a disproportionate number experience poorer mental health outcomes and have higher risk of suicidal behaviours than their peers.

These health outcomes are directly related to experiences of stigma, prejudice, discrimination and abuse on the basis of being LGBTI. This document aims to provide a snapshot of what is known of the current mental health and wellbeing outcomes of LGBTI people in Australia.

The sex lives of young women marked by frustration, stress, guilt and embarrassment

Monash University, 24 Feb 2020

Professor Susan Davis, a leading Monash University expert on women’s health, admits it was a highly ambitious project: minutely studying the sexual wellbeing of 7000 young Australian women with particular focus on complicated, intimate ideas such as desire, arousal, orgasm, responsiveness and self-esteem.

Now that it’s done (and published this week in the international journal Fertility and Sterility), she’s “very concerned.” The main finding is that half of the women studied experience personal “distress” related to sex. One in five has at least one sexual dysfunction. “Young” means aged 18 to 39. The concern, she says, is because “sexual wellbeing is recognised as a fundamental human right”.

“This is a wake-up call to the community,” she says. “This is what we [society] are doing to people. We expected to find that a meaningful number of young women had sexual issues, but we were not expecting to find half were distressed sexually.”

Call for allies to step up with LGBTQ distress ‘worse than after postal survey’

Sydney Morning Herald, February 23, 2020

Four out of five LGBTQ+ people say they feel worse now than they did after the “yes” vote on same-sex marriage, describing the debate over religious discrimination as “Marriage Equality 2.0” because it is amplifying negative voices.

The findings are from the Make Love Louder report by Macquarie University researcher Shirleene Robinson.

It found three out of four LGBTQ+ Australians have personally experienced negativity or discrimination on the basis of their sexual or gender identity and one in four experience it on a daily basis. For transgender Australians, four out of five have experienced it, two out of five on a daily basis.

The research suggests 63 per cent of Australians support the LGBTQ+ community, but three out of four of these, dubbed allies, are “silent supporters”. Dr Robinson said it was important for allies to be vocal to “make love louder than hate”.

Meanwhile, separate research by mental health charity Headspace found most LGBTQ+ young people experience high or very high psychological distress.

 

 

Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia

Ziersch, A., Due, C. & Walsh, M. Discrimination: a health hazard for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds resettled in Australia. BMC Public Health 20108 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8068-3

Abstract

Background

Research has shown that discrimination is harmful to health, but there is relatively little known about discrimination experienced by people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in resettlement countries and associated health effects. This qualitative-focused mixed methods paper reports on discrimination experienced by refugees and asylum seekers, responses to discrimination, and impacts on health.

Methods

As part of a broader study of housing, social inclusion and health, surveys were completed by 423 adult refugees and asylum seekers living in South Australia who had been in Australia for up to 7 years. The survey included questions on discrimination based on skin colour, ethnicity and religion, as well as questions on hope, trust, belonging, sense of control and health (including the SF-8). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 65 survey participants, purposively sampled by visa status, continent and gender, further exploring experiences of discrimination. These and survey open-ended responses were analysed thematically.

Results

Twenty-two percent of survey participants reported experiences of discrimination since arriving in Australia (14% in the last year), and 90% of these felt that discrimination had harmed their health. Key settings of discrimination were public transport, within the neighbourhood, and in relation to employment. Those who reported discrimination had significantly worse mental health (p < .000) but not physical health. Discrimination was also associated with less sense of belonging (p = .001), lower levels of trust (p = .038), reduced sense of control (p = .012) and less hope (p = .006). Incidents described in interviews and the open-ended survey responses included incivility, physical assault, and denial of services, experienced across intersecting characteristics of race/ethnicity, religion, gender and visa status. Responses to discrimination spanned affective, cognitive and behavioural dimensions, ranging across types of experience, participant characteristics and context, with most individuals reporting multiple response types. While some of the responses were reported by participants as protective of health, participants’ reflections indicated significant negative impacts on mental health in particular.

Conclusion

Discrimination featured in the resettlement experiences of a significant number of refugees and asylum seekers, with participants reporting clear negative impacts on mental health. Addressing discrimination is a key resettlement and health issue requiring urgent action.