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.

About the Campaign

May 28, 2015 Recap

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.

From the Blog

May 28 Press Release by Doctors of the World, Spain

June 1, 2015

Madrid on May 28th 2015

Since 1987, every May 28th the International Day of Action for Women’s Health is celebrated. Doctors of the World joins the international campaign “Our health, our rights, our lives” to remind governments their obligations to promote, respect and fulfil the Women’s health, sexual and reproductive rights. We echo the United Nations´ Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights preoccupations in relation to the impact of the cut back made in the politics of regulation of fundamentals rights as the education and health rights in Spain.

In this regards, we endorse the Shadow Report, integrated by a large and diverse group of civil society organizations, which the CEDAW Spain Platform (Convention for Eliminating all its form Discriminations Against Women) elaborated. This report point at the preoccupation regarding the setback that happened in the last years in Spain causing inequalities in access to health services a consequence due to the Sanitary Reform (RDL 16/2012). Since the approbation of the Royal Decree-Law, the access to the public health system has been refused to an important number of women in an irregular administrative situation, making it difficult to identify gender-based violence, the most often detected during the primary action. The report denounces also a reduction of the quantity and the quality of services against gender-based violence; a constant threat for reforming the actual Health and Sexual Law, Reproduction and Voluntary termination of pregnancy; shortcoming in the prevention protocol of the practise of female genital mutilation; cut back in the sexual and emotional education, HIV/AIDS prevention and others sexually transmitted infections, to mention the most severe setbacks.

Due to all this measures Spain interrupts its actions in sexual education, in population sensibilization and in the active promotion of the empowerment of women illustrating in the barometer which analyzes the access of the women to a free choice of modern contraception in 10 countries in The European Union.

We remind you that in September the United Nations will approve the Objectives of a Sustainable Development, the main idea in terms of international developing, where the sexual and reproductive rights of women must be the central element.

On this May 28th, we demand to the Spanish Government to fulfil the internationals commitments subscribed in health and reproductive and sexual women rights, granting an integral approach, inclusive and based on rights.

For more information:

Laura Cabezas

Responsable of Doctors of the World Spain Comunication

Tf.: 629 214 755