World Sexual Health Day
CGSHE x WSHD: Announcing worldsexualhealthday.ca
Since 2010, the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) has been calling organizations, communities and individuals to celebrate sexual health, wellbeing and rights for all through World Sexual Health Day (WSHD). Focusing on a unique theme each year, WSHD is celebrated on September 4th across the globe with active participation from close to 50 countries. The theme for WSHD 2020 is “Sexual pleasure in times of COVID-19”.
Inequities in sexual health and wellbeing are shaped by socio-structural, systemic, and political factors. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing barriers to accessing support, community and services. This year, WSHD’s goal is to put the focus of sexual health, pleasure, rights and reproductive justice on policy, practices, public health and education for the protection and promotion of gender equity.
For over ten years, the Centre for Gender and Sexual Health Equity (CGSHE) has been working towards advancing gender and sexual health equity through policy, practice and research. We acknowledge that sexual pleasure is a vital part of sexual health and wellbeing, and believe everyone should have access to the support, community and services they need to realize their optimal state of wellness, which includes sexual pleasure. CGSHE is deeply committed to an intersectional feminist* approach to re-center voices and leadership historically marginalized in conversations of sexual health and reproductive justice** including Black, Indigenous and other racialized women, trans women, and LGBTQ2S+ communities.
In alignment with this year’s goal for WSHD and our strategic vision to provide leadership in advancing gender and sexual health equity for all, we are excited to announce the launch of the World Sexual Health Day – Canada platform: worldsexualhealthday.ca.
The World Health Organization defines sexual health as a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing in relation to sexuality. A deficit-based model to sexual health is neither practical, not realistic. We acknowledge that not all sexual expression and experiences are positive, pleasurable or celebrated. The pandemic has made visible some of the deep-rooted and long-standing inequities our communities face. While we can’t ignore the challenges and inequities in sexual health, neither can we forget that sexual health and wellbeing for all is our ultimate aim.
The World Association for Sexual Health urges all to ensure that human and sexual rights are recognized and respected, and new policies or measures to manage the pandemic do not violate the right to sexual and reproductive health services and reproductive justice. By taking active role in promoting, disseminating, and supporting WSHD events and initiatives across Canada, we hope to bring together organizations, groups and likeminded individuals working towards the same goal, while celebrating WSHD globally.
* Gender equity and sexual health equity require an intersectional feminist approach. The term intersectionality was first coined by Professor Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw in 1989 to describe overlapping and interacting forms of oppression including racism, transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia. To truly understand and meaningfully work toward gender, sexual health and reproductive justice, we must ensure that we are inclusive of these experiences.
** Reproductive justice emerged in response to low- income women, Black women and women of colour, and LGBTQ+ people feeling isolated from the women’s rights movement. Reproductive Justice was first termed by SisterSong Women of Colour in the US and is defined as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities”. Reproductive justice focuses on access rather than rights, asserting that legal rights alone do not mean having access, due to socio-structural factors.
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