Critiquing the Feminization of the HPV Vaccine: Global and Indonesian Perspectives

Setiyani Martha Dewi

1Nossal Institute for Global Health, University Of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia

The framing of the HPV vaccine as a cervical cancer prevention measure has led to the expansion of HPV immunization, particularly for women and girls, in many parts of the world. However, such framing arguably reinforces a narrative that cervical cancer is a disease that only concerns women, which neglects the facts that men are equally responsible for and increasingly affected by HPV infection. Critics further argue that the sole focus on women in HPV vaccination unfairly puts the burden of population protection on women’s shoulders, downplaying men’s role in HPV transmission and protection. Currently, the introduction of HPV immunisation in Indonesia is exclusively promoted as part of cervical cancer prevention measures and mainly aimed at adolescent girls. While the new investment in cervical cancer prevention is highly welcome, it also presents a challenge in terms of raising public awareness that the HPV burden is not limited to women or to cervical cancer. The paper will discuss a growing body of literature that examines the feminization of the HPV vaccine and how it shapes women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights globally and in the Indonesian context.


Setiyani Dewi is a PhD candidate at Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Her research will explore the opportunities and challenges in the HPV vaccination program in Indonesia. Dewi has extensive experience working in adolescent sexual and reproductive health services and education sector in Indonesia.



The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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