The wildest dreams and the Asian gaze


  • Ai Sumihira Registered social worker


Asian health, women's health, feminism, health equity, social determinants of health, social work


This commentary essay is about a personal and professional reflection of the article written by Came et al. (2021)“Smashing the patriarchy to address gender health inequities”.  While learning about how Western feminism impacted on women’s health advancement locally and internationally, the original article made my mind wander.with curiosity over a few interrelated gender health topics. Those topics are namely Asian health in Aotearoa New Zealand, Asian women’s health, feminism in Asia and social determinants of health.  The article also made me realise that I knew only very little about my own roots, and womanhood studies in Asia. I dont even know how to say " feminism" in my first language. 


Abubakar, I., Aldridge, R. W., Devakuma, D., Orcutt, M., Burns, R., Barreto, M. L., Dhavan, P., Fouad, F. M., Groce, N., Guo, Y., Hargreaves, S., Knipper, M., Miranda, J. J., Madise, N., Kumar, B., Mosca, D., McGovern, T., Rubenstein, L., Sammonds, P., ... Zimmerman, C. (2018). The UCL-Lancet Commission on Migration and Health: The health of a world on the move. Lancet, 392(December), 2606–2654, http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(18)32114-7

Ameratunga, S., Tin Tin, S., Rasanathan, K., Robinson, E., & Watson, P. (2008). Use of health care by young Asian New Zealanders: Findings from a national youth health survey. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 44(11), 636–641. 1754.2008.01372.x

Anae, M. (2020). The platform: The radical legacy of the Polynesian Panthers. Bridget William Books.

Ardern, J. (2022). Harvard University Commencement Speech. New Zealand Herald. watch?v=Vj3x-JUlukI

Came, H., Matheson, A., & Kidd, J. (2021). Smashing the patriarchy to address gender health inequities: Past, present and future perspectives from Aotearoa (New Zealand). Global Public Health, 17(8), 1540–1550.

Combahee River Collective. (2019). A black feminist statement. Monthly Review, 70(8), 29–36.

Coney, S. (1995). Reforms in patients’ rights and health service restructuring: Obstacles to change. Reproductive Health Matters, 3(6), 72–83. 10.1016/0968-8080(95)90161-2

Coney, S., & Bunkle, P. (1987, June). An unfortunate experiment at National Women’s. Metro. https://www. experiment-at-national-womens

Cree, V. E., & Philips, R. (2019). Feminist contributions to critical social work. In S. A. Webb (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of critical social work (pp. 126–136). Routledge. https://doi-org.ezproxy.auckland.

Chapman, M. (2021). The story of a mighty pen. The Spinoff. a-mighty-pen

Gao, W., DeSouza, R., Paterson, J., & Lu, T. (2008). Factors affecting uptake of cervical cancer screening among Chinese women in New Zealand. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 103(1), 76–82. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2008.04.025

Girling, A., Liu, J. H., Ward, C., & Centre for Applied Cross- Cultural Research Victoria University of Wellington. (2020). Confident, equal and proud? A discussion paper on the barriers Asian face to equality in New Zealand. relations/barriers-to-asian-equality/Confident,-equal,- and-proud.pdf

Hager, D. (2020). The hierarchies in NZ’s domestic violence problem. Ideas Room. ideasroom/the-hierarchies-in-nzs-domestic-violence- problem

History, Art & Archives, U.S. House of Representatives. (2008). The Civil Rights Movement and The Second Reconstruction, 1945–1968. Office of the Historian, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007. U.S. Government Printing Office. Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-Essays/ Keeping-the-Faith/Civil-Rights-Movement/

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). (2022). Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change.

Langer A., Meleis, A., Knaul, F. M., Atun, R., Aran, M., Arreola-Ornelas, H., Bhutta, Z. A., Binagwaho, A., Bonita, R., Caglia, J. M., Claeson, M., Davies, J., Donnay, F. A., Gausman, J. M., Glickman, C., Kearns, A. D., Kendall, T., Lozano, R., Seboni, N., ... Frenk, J. (2015). Women and Health: The key for sustainable development. Lancet, 386(September), 1165–1210, S0140-6736(15)60497-4

Liao, R. (2019). In the shadow of exclusion: The state of New Zealand Asian health. New Zealand Medical Student Journal, (29), 32–36. in-the-shadow-of-exclusion-the-state-of-new-zealand- asian-health.html

Lindblad, F., & Signell, S. (2008). Degrading attitudes related to foreign appearance: Interviews with Swedish female adoptees from Asia. Adoption and Fostering, 32(2), 46–59.

Mackie, V. (2004). Shifting the axes: Feminism and transnational imaginary. In K. Willis, B. S. A., Yeoh., & S. M. K. A. Fakhri (Eds), State/nation/transnation: Perspectives on transnationalism in the Asia Pacific (pp. 238–256). Taylor and Francis.

Mann, S. A., & Huffman, D. J. (2005). The decentering of second wave feminism and the rise of the third wave. Science & Society, 69(1), 56–91. siso.

Marmot, M., &. Wilkinson, R. G., (2005). Social organization, stress, and health. In M. Marmot & R. Wilkinson (Eds.), Social determinants of health (2nd ed). https://doi. org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198565895.003.02

Ministry of Health. (2019). Report of the Parliamentary Review Committee regarding the National Cervical Screening Programme, April 2019.

Ministry of Health. (2022a). Cervical cancer. https://www. diseases-and-illnesses/cervical-cancer

Ministry of Health. (2022b). Hospitalisation and ICU care for COVID-19. coronavirus/covid-19-data-and-statistics/covid-19-case-demographics#hospitalisations

Ministry of Social Development. (2010). Learning from tragedy: Homicide within families in New Zealand 2002- 2006. publications-resources/research/learning-from-tragedy/ index.html

Mohanty, C. T. (1988). Under western eyes: Feminist scholarship and colonial discourses. Feminist Review, 30(1), 61–88.

Mohanty, C. T. (2003). “Under western eyes” revisited: Feminist solidarity through anticapitalist struggles. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(2), 499–535. https://

Peiris-John, R., Bavin, L., Kang, K., Dizon, L., Lewycka, S., Ameratunga, S., Clark, T., & Fleming, T. (2022). Factors predicting forgone healthcare among Asian adolescents in New Zealand: Unmasking variations in aggregate data. New Zealand Medical Journal, 135(1549), 63–80. 292/58464/61fb275af9557456133ab951_5404%20-%20 final.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

Peiris-John, R., Kang, K., Bavin, L., Dizon, L., Singh, N., Clark, T., Fleming, T., & Ameratunga, S. (2021). East Asian, South Asian, Chinese and Indian students in Aotearoa: A Youth19 Report. The University of Auckland. students-report

Roces, M. (2010). Asian feminisms: Women’s movements from the Asian perspective. In M. Roces & L. Edwards (Eds.). Women’s movements in Asia: Feminisms and transnational activism (pp. 1–20). Taylor and Francis.

Rahmanipour, S., Kumar, S., & Simon-Kumar, R. (2019). Underreporting sexual violence among “ethnic” migrant women: Perspectives from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 21(7), 837–852. https://doi. org/ 10.1080/13691058.2018.1519120

Simon-Kumar, R. (2009). The “problem” of Asian women’s sexuality: Public discourses in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 11(1), 1–16. https://doi. org/10.1080/13691050802272304

Simon-Kumar, R., Kurian, P. A., Young-Silcock, F., & Narasimhan, N. (2017). Mobilising culture against domestic violence in migrant and ethnic communities: Practitioner perspectives from Aotearoa/New Zealand. Health & Social Care in the Community, 25(4), 1387– 1395.

Statistics New Zealand. (2020). Ethnic group summaries. group-summaries

Sumihira, A. (2019). Why I support “School Strike 4 Climate”. Reimagining Social Work in Aotearoa. support-school-strike-4-climate/

Swift, T. (2021). 22 [song]. Red: Taylor’s Version: Republic Records.

Young, B. R. (2019) Imagining revolutionary feminism: Communist asia and the women of the Black Panther party, Souls, 21(1), 1-17. DOI: 10.1080/10999949.2019.1647126

The Youth 2000 survey (”

World Health Organisation. (2020). Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem. item/9789240014107




How to Cite

Sumihira, A. (2022). The wildest dreams and the Asian gaze. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 34(4), 82–90. Retrieved from