In this time of global pandemic, coronavirus (COVID-19) is resulting in widespread modifications to the way we live our lives. As international travel, large-scale gatherings, and other events are cancelled to reduce the spread, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights is committed to ensuring that sexual and reproductive health and rights are not forgotten or neglected in these conversations and plans.
So far, while much remains unknown, some of the sexual and reproductive health impacts of COVID-19 include concerns around access to child care (in the event of ongoing school and work cancellations), increased wait times around accessing sexual and reproductive care as health care systems respond to increasing and new demands, difficulties in accessing SRHR medications including contraceptives, hormone therapy, and HIV treatment, and the increased health risks experienced by pregnant and immuno-compromised people. This week, the Guttmacher Institute published a statement on some of the impacts on sexual and reproductive rights that can help guide us as SRHR advocates here in Canada and around the world.
While our day-to-day work defending sexual and reproductive rights will continue throughout these changing circumstances, we are committed to doing our part to #flattenthecurve. Our team will follow the evidence-based recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada on social/physical distancing and other measures recommended to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including working remotely and postponing larger in-person events.
Work flexibility is already a key part of Action Canada’s culture because we understand that everyone has different needs and experiences – and that our work is only possible if we support all advocates to succeed. At its core, our work is about human rights and equality across our lives– in our health care system, our workplaces, our schools, and our families. In a time of school cancellations and other responses, this means supporting our team members to care for their children, family members, and community with adapted hours – and we encourage other organizations who can to do the same.
Crises like COVID-19 expose where social, economic, and health inequality are most pervasive – and underpins the need for a unified movement to build a fairer, more equitable world. We also stand in solidarity and gratitude with all health care workers on the frontline of this public health crisis.