One of the most common and entrenched causes of health inequity is racism. Racism, treating someone as inferior or lesser because of their race, ethnicity or where they are from, remains a driver of inequity between groups. Racism occurs at an interpersonal level between people, as well as systemically through laws and policies, such as the way health services are designed. Racism results in unequal sharing of power and resources, and in Aotearoa it privileges New Zealand European people over others including Māori, Pacific peoples, and refugee and migrant communities.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa recognises that racism and colonisation have uniquely impacted sexual and reproductive health and rights. For example, controlling reproduction including forced sterilisation, preventing people from having children, or removing children from families has been a way to try to control indigenous populations and other communities experiencing racism, and has caused intergenerational harm and trauma. All people have a right to reproductive autonomy, to have children, to not have children, and parent children in safe and healthy communities.
Negative stereotypes about sexuality and reproduction based on someone’s ethnicity is a type of racism. Negative stereotyping contributes to the stigma and shame that people may feel seeking health services and information and can impact how they are provided information or services, creating barriers to realising equity in sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa aims to be an actively anti-racist organisation. As an organisation, we realise we have a lot to learn, and a long way to go, but we are committed to eliminating racism. Being anti-racist is also essential to realising the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa advocates for addressing the range of social determinants of health that relate to racism and inequity, including issues like poverty and violence, alongside our work to make sure our services are equitable, accessible and inclusive.