Polygeia started operations in Hong Kong this year as we instituted our first branch in South-East Asia. Read along to hear what Margaret Ho, Branch President has to say about what motivated her to bring Polygeia to Hong Kong and their exciting projects for this research cycle!
After studying Public Health in London and returning to Hong Kong to finish medical school, I was extremely motivated to continue pursuing research in areas of global health that could combine my interest in global health issues with my skills and knowledge in medicine. I noticed that many of my peers back in Hong Kong were also very keen in learning more about and taking action on prevalent issues in global health, even though there tends to be smaller focus on these areas in our studies.
Having heard about Polygeia from my friends in London who were involved as researchers on some of their projects, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to start our own branch in Hong Kong to shed light on incredibly important yet often under-researched areas. What excited me most about Polygeia was the potential to learn from and work with researchers from all disciplines — as medical students, it can be difficult to step out of the comfort of other medical students (especially when you have a separate medical campus like us!); such multi-disciplinary work really expands the potential of what you can achieve and contribute.
I am extremely fortunate to be joined by an amazing team of highly experienced, passionate and intelligent ladies — Evelyn, Vernice, Jasmine, Alina, and Yvonne — who have been with me every step of the way in setting up our branch and its projects! I know that I can always count on them for an honest opinion and unwavering support!
Our first project on sexual violence in Hong Kong actually stemmed from a forensic sexology lecture that we had earlier this year. The lecturer spoke in detail on the lack of information on the statistics in this area, the lack of support that sexual violence victims and survivors receive, as well as the frustrating gaps in legislation that exist. Driven to do something, anything, to better the situation, we thought about potential research that we could do to improve upon the evidence base in this area.This is how our scoping study on sexual violence in Hong Kong came to be.
Our next project, access to healthcare for sexual minorities, also came similarly from another lecture on sexual minorities locally, as well as frequent accounts of discrimination experienced by these minority groups whether that be in healthcare or otherwise. This is huge issue in Hong Kong where there is currently no legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
By pursuing these two areas (and many more in the near future!), we would like to first examine existing research to find out what already exists and also identify areas that need to be improved upon. With these findings, we hope to then further our work — whether that be in the form of analyses of current legislation, policy recommendations — to ensure that the voices of these groups are heard. We look forward to sharing our findings and working with relevant NGOs and organisations in the city!
If you would like to start a Polygeia branch at your university, do get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org!