To mark International Women’s Day, ACON – NSW’s leading LGBTI health organisation – is calling on everyone within the LGBTI community to celebrate and reflect on the many amazing and talented LGBTI women in our communities.
Observed annually on 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and also marks as a call to action for accelerating gender parity.
ACON Deputy CEO Karen Price said that on IWD, women are making a diverse and important contribution across community, business, health, political, sporting, arts and other sectors – and that these contributions have significant impacts on visibility, inclusion and health.
“ACON has the privilege of working with some truly amazing women who are inspirational actors for change in society.
“We are fortunate that women are stepping up and leading sporting, social and other groups where people from our communities can come together, find strength and support in being part of a team or group. Groups like Dykes on Bikes Sydney, the Flying Bats Women’s Soccer Club, Bush Lemons, the Sydney Femme Guild, Queer Screen, the Aurora Foundation, Twenty10, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, The Red Rattler, Tran Sydney Pride and many others are critical elements within our communities who promote visibility, diversity, social inclusion and resilience – all important to affecting change.”
With the IWD 2018 theme being #PressforProgress, ACON is asking our communities to think, act and be gender inclusive.
“ACON has made a core commitment to work closely with women from LGBTIQ communities to better understand and address our specific health issues,” Price said.
“We can only do this work in coalition, with the leadership and participation of all LGBTIQ women. We are very proud of the programs and services we are building to meet the health needs of all LGBTIQ women such as the breast health screening initiative #TalkTouchTest, the tobacco reduction campaign #SmokeFreeStillFierce, CLAUDE, LGBTIQ Women’s Health Conference and our more recent cervical and sexual health initiatives, The Inner Circle and Check OUT Clinic,” Price said.
While some of these programs and services are relatively new, ACON’s work in this area reaches back more than 20 years.
“ACON has collaborated with research partners on the Sydney Women and Sexual Health survey (SWASH) since 1996,” Price said. “Together, we have developed the largest and longest data set on women connected to the LGBTI community in Australia – upon which we develop ACON’s health programs and policies and advocacy efforts”.
IWD 2018 provides an opportunity to highlight where more work needs to be done to ensure gender parity and address discrimination still experienced by LGBTI women.
“We still have a long way to go in breaking down sexism and gender based discrimination, and in making sure the voices of all women within our communities are heard. Ensuring that specific health issues experienced by all LGBTIQ women are addressed through funding and support for community-led initiatives is vital as well,” Price said.
“The difference between LGBTIQ women’s health and that of the broader community is primarily influenced by social contexts and behaviours, and how often marginalisation and stigmatisation of our communities impacts our health.
“ACON is proud to have several projects targeting LGBTIQ women that focuses on key health issues such breast cancer, tobacco reduction, cervical screening and sexual health. These initiatives have all been informed by data collected by previous SWASH studies, along with many other aspects of ACON’s work on behalf of, and with LGBTI women.”
Price said that on IWD, it is important for all members of the LGBTIQ community to show solidarity.
“LGBTIQ women have been strong partners to gay men, not only in the ongoing struggle for equality, but for many years in the response to HIV/AIDS. And while our relationships are privately strong, it is increasingly important that we are publicly strong together, in order for no-one to be left behind – because progress in women’s rights is progress for a more just and inclusive community for all,” Price said. —