Examining Gender Relations among HIV Positive South Asian Immigrant Women in the Greater Toronto Area through an Anti-Oppressive Lens

  • Roula Kteily-Hawa Queen's University
Keywords: Gender relations, social theory of gender, HIV-positive South Asian immigrant women, HIV risk, anti-oppressive lens, hegemonic masculinity, qualitative inquiry


This paper focuses on South Asian immigrant women living with HIV in Toronto. Our community-based research affirmed the benefits of augmenting the social theory of gender with a focus on the local. An anti-oppressive and intersectional lens explored how multiple relations of domination and subordination affect women living with HIV. A general inductive approach identified four themes pursuant to women’s perceptions of gender relations and how they affect their risk of HIV: power, emotional attachment, gendered division of labour, and social norms. Richer understandings of how power operates between genders paves the way for theory refinement and innovative, refocused research.

Cet article est basé sur une recherche de doctorat achevée en 2011. L’objectif principal de cette étude est d’explorer comment le pouvoir masculin dans les communautés sud-asiatiques, légitimé par la masculinité hégémonique, contribue au risque d’infection par le VIH chez les femmes sud-asiatiques. Les histoires racontées par ces femmes révèlent des relations de pouvoir durant leur enfance et leur vie adulte, caractérisées par un déséquilibre de pouvoir et une domination du mâle. La compréhension des réalités des immigrantes sud-asiatiques selon une optique anti-oppressive est offerte comme un moyen de réduire le sentiment d’impuissance acquise, sans essentialiser la culture.

Author Biography

Roula Kteily-Hawa, Queen's University

A secondary school teacher by training, Roula Hawa was a lead writer in the recently released Revised Ontario Curriculum, Social Sciences and Humanities. She completed her Ph.D. in Leadership, Higher and Adult Education at OISE, University of Toronto in 2013. She has been involved in teaching and curriculum writing for more than 10 years in the Family Supports program at Ryerson University and more recently in the Continuing Teacher Education program at Queen's University. Her research projects include examining the role of story-telling as a culturally relevant intervention to promote sexual health and exploring challenges related to food culture in schools. 

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