Our Health, Our Rights, Our Lives!

Women's Health Matters

May 28 is the International Day of Action for Women’s Health. May 28th has been commemorated by women ’s health advocates and their communities since 1987 and has been crucial in the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) movement building. May 28 provides a great opportunity to remind our government leaders that Women’s Health Matters.

This year’s campaign underscores the gravity of ensuring that Post-2015 comprehensively addresses women and girls’ SRHR through highlighting the extreme consequences resulting from a narrow approach to women’s health, in the form of the institutional violence condoned and perpetuated by the State through the denial of sexual and reproductive health services and rights.

Call for Action!

Our Health, Our Rights, Our Lives!
End Violence Against Women in ALL its Forms

Governments around the world are currently in the final stages of establishing the Post-2015 Development Agenda, which will include a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will guide international development policies, priorities, and funding over the next 15 years. Throughout this and other recent global review processes, violence against women has rightly received due attention from governments and UN institutions alike as “one of the most prevalent forms of human rights violations worldwide,” constraining women’s empowerment and impeding sustainable development. Yet one form of violence, particularly experienced by women and girls if they are young, unmarried, poor, HIV affected, of diverse sexual orientations or gender identities, living with a disability, or in other vulnerable situations, remains rampant and unaddressed: namely, the institutional violence they experience when they are denied their right to health and are unable to access sexual and reproductive health services.

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Examples of Institutional Violence

Denial of abortion

The denial of the right to access safe and legal abortion services

The systemic denial of women’s right to access safe and legal abortion services, and/or the criminalization of abortion is one of the most severe examples of institutional violence in regards of sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Forced sterilization

Forced or coerced sterilizations

Forced and coerced sterilizations are grave violations of human rights and medical ethics and constitute acts of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, as recognized by Human Rights Bodies. Nevertheless, women across the globe have been forced or coerced by medical personnel to submit to permanent and irreversible sterilization procedures.


Obstetric violence

Obstetric violence is a specific type of violation of women’s rights, including the rights to equality, freedom from discrimination, information, integrity, health, and reproductive autonomy. It occurs both in public and private medical practice during health care related to pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum and is a multi-factorial context of institutional and gender violence.

Denial of contraceptives

The denial of access to contraceptives including emergency contraception

Restrictions on access to contraceptives and abortion threaten women’s fundamental human rights to life, health and equality. Every woman has the right to decide when and if she wants to have a child. Denied access to contraception, emergency contraception and safe abortion services is a solid example of institutional violence.

Actions Around the World


Click on on the Map image to see the list of actions undertaken by our partners and campaign participants around the world.