Tag Archives: Gender

Sexual and Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings

As of today, there are 68.5 million people who have had to flee their homes, nearly 25.4 million of them being classified as refugees (UNHCR, 2018). We have reached the highest level of displacement in recorded history (UNHCR, 2018). There is a need to further discuss the unique and specific needs of displaced people and the complications surrounding effective services.

People who are affected by humanitarian crises, whether it be war, violence, or natural disasters, are particularly vulnerable to life-threatening ailments, including sexual and reproductive ill-health. The failure to effectively provide sexual and reproductive health services to this population is a leading cause of death, disease and disability and subsequently poses serious barriers in the advancement towards the Sustainable Development Goals (Foster et al., 2017). Those in a particularly vulnerable position are women and girls of reproductive age. According to the Women’s Refugee Commission, women and girls in humanitarian settings have a significantly increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence including exploitation and abuse (2019).

Improvements in sexual and reproductive health and rights is directly linked to an improvement in both social and economic development (CARE, 2013). However, in order to affectively address these issues we need to work towards not only improving direct services, we need to work towards creating real systemic change targeting gender inequality, power imbalances and policy barriers (CARE, 2013). The first step in developing meaningful health interventions is gathering reliable data and scientific evidence to support them. Unfortunately, there is a gap in this field of research done on women and girl’s health in these areas (WHO, 2016).

Due to the particular needs of this population, there is a need to encourage the unity and collaboration between different sectors to assure comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care (Foster et al., 2017). We need to be actively working towards implementing new strategies to increase prevention and response interventions as well as strengthening social and protective networks in these areas. There is a global obligation to assure that the right to sexual and reproductive health is upheld for everyone, including those living in humanitarian settings.

Despite these shortcomings, Canada is at the forefront of a feminist humanitarian movement and other countries are following in its wake. After announcing its Feminist International Assistance Policy, Canada pledged to better support women and girls’ health in developing countries and has launched 123 projects in 51 countries as of April 2019 (Government of Canada, 2017). With the investment of $650 million, the Canadian government has worked towards closing the gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls by providing and improving access to comprehensive health care, prevention and education (Government of Canada, 2017). The launch of this foreign policy is an important step in the advancement of a more feminist approach to humanitarian aid.

As the World Health Assembly (WHA) approaches along with the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, the stage is set for the international community to implement sustainable change and uphold the rights of women and girls. It is important however that in these discussions we ensure that those who are affected by these crises are not only seen and heard within the humanitarian system but that they are main actors in leading the discussion and shaping the policies in question (CARE, 2019). The year 2019 has the potential to enact significant change in the way we carry out humanitarian aid and Canada must continue to be a leading voice in this global effort.


CARE. (2013, September). Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights [Text]. Retrieved from https://www.care.org/work/health/sexual-and-reproductive-health-and-rights

Foster, A. M., Evans, D. P., Garcia, M., Knaster, S., Krause, S., McGinn, T., … Wheeler, E. (2017). The 2018 Inter-agency field manual on reproductive health in humanitarian settings: revising the global standards. Reproductive Health Matters, 25(51), 18–24. https://doi.org/10.1080/09688080.2017.1403277

Government of Canada, G. A. C. (2016). Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy. Retrieved from https://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/policy-politique.aspx?lang=eng

UNHCR (2018, June). Figures at a Glance. Retrieved from  https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

WHO (2016). Sexual and reproductive health and rights of refugees and migrants. Retrieved from http://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/news/srhr-refugees-migrant/en/

CARE (2019, April). Womens and girls rights and agency in humanitarian action: A life-saving priority. Retrieved from https://care.ca/2019/04/womens-and-girls-rights-and-agency-in-humanitarian-action-a-life-saving-priority/



Transmission of Human Papillomavirus Without Sexual Contact

Authors: Naweed Ahmed, Wakqas Kayani, Sahab Jamshidi, Suneil Bapat, Ahmed ImamovicPanteha Tavassol


Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. There are four common HPV strains: 6, 11, 16, and 18. Strains 6 and 11 cause genital warts, while strains 16 and 18 are asymptomatic in males and may progress to cervical cancer in females. Although uncommon, a small percentage of males and females have been diagnosed with HPV without previous sexual contact. In this case report, we discuss a case conducted on a 15-year-old South Asian male who contracted an unknown low-risk strain of HPV with no history of sexual contact. HPV is highly infectious, however in the majority of cases the immune system is able to clear the infection, preventing the appearance of genital warts. In cases such as these, it is important to help control the spread of viral infections. Several determinants of health are involved in and affect the trans-mission of HPV, including income and social status, social support networks, education and literacy, culture, social and physical environments, and health services. To aid in the prevention of HPV, sexual education should be taught at early ages within schools and the Gardasil® vaccine should be administered to both females and males at an early age to reduce the burden of disease and the incidence of HPV.

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Gender refers to the socially constructed roles and attributes assigned to men, women and other gender groups that extend beyond the biologically defined categories of sex. It is a multifaceted determinant of health, which encompasses the social roles, personality traits, values, attitudes, behaviours, relative power and influence ascribed to these groups in a given society. Unlike sex characteristics, aspects of gender vary greatly depending on the place, culture, and stage in life.

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Sub-Saharan Women Affected by HIV/AIDS: The Perfect Storm of Risk Factors

Authors: Isabel ARROYO & Dr. Sanni YAYA


This paper examines the prevalence and incidence rates of HIV/AIDS in women living in sub-Saharan Africa. The risk factors presented in the literature that are hypothesized to be responsible for the increasing rates of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan African women are identified. Risk factors discussed include biological factors, parasites, malnutrition, lower socioeconomic status, intimate partner violence, war, gender inequality and lack of education. These risk factors relate to multiple determinants of health: income and social status, education and literacy, employment, physical environment, gender and culture. The authors present their perspectives on mediating this epidemic, which involves reducing the ramifications of poverty on sub-Saharan women. Continue reading Sub-Saharan Women Affected by HIV/AIDS: The Perfect Storm of Risk Factors

A critique of Gender Identity Disorder and its application



For some, Gender Identity Disorder (GID) becomes the only way to achieve sex reassignment surgery (SRS). It will be shown that GID acts as a problematic regulatory mechanism based on its application.

It will be argued that GID normalizes a dichotomous view of gender. In this way, GID’s implicit applications allow the mental health professional to assert their views of what proper gendered behavior is, further normalizing a binary view of gender.

Insurance companies require a GID diagnosis in order to provide economic assistance to those wishing to undergo sex reassignment surgery. Those who cannot afford to transition must fall under GID’s gaze in order to achieve SRS. This will be shown to be unacceptable and a way in which GID operates as a regulatory mechanism.

Appealing to a GID diagnosis can further stigmatize the individual who wishes to transition due to the necessitation of distress as an explicit mechanism of diagnosis. Having to fall under GID may internalize the negative aspects of the diagnosis.

A criticism of GID as a form of psychopathology will be given and also be linked to the idea of GID as a regulatory apparatus. It will be shown that there should be no link between ethical discomfort and GID-free sex reassignment surgery. Also, it will be shown that psychopathology has normalizing capabilities that further entrench gender binaries.

It is important to consider the removal of GID from the DSM, but, as a condition, still offer funding for sex reassignment surgery without having to appeal to a mental health professional’s assessment.

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