Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Peter Dunn

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


In Canada, the sexual health education needs of individuals beyond their adolescent years are often overlooked. For immigrant women, silences around issues of adult sexual health are compounded by the perception of mystery and taboos surrounding minority women and sexuality. In exploring the experiences and needs of adult immigrant women related to sexuality and sexual health education in Kitchener-Waterloo—two mid-size cities located within the Waterloo Region in southern Ontario—this study sought to create space for dialogue and to bridge the perceived cultural divide on issues of sexual health that often arises between individuals from different cultural backgrounds.

Using a qualitative approach and a research design founded on principles of community-based participatory research, 19 individual interviews and one group interview were conducted with a total of 22 women from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds who had immigrated to Canada as adults. Paradigmatic, theoretical, and methodological triangulation was used to create a richer understanding and more credible account of the women’s lived experiences. Data analysis was conducted using interpretive phenomenological techniques and a feminist orienting framework.

This study points to the need for phenomenological models of understanding adult women’s attitudes, behaviours, and strategies related to accessing sexual health information and services that reflect the voices of women as well as the complex realities of their lives. The study further provides recommendations for both mainstream and immigrant-serving community workers and service providers about providing sexual health information and services that are responsive to the diverse needs of immigrant women within the multi-cultural setting of Kitchener-Waterloo.

Convocation Year


Included in

Social Work Commons