May 28th is International Women’s Health Day. It is designated to promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights. This year is especially important as worldwide we are seeing a regression in the rights women have in regard to their own bodies. There is also increased violence and discrimination against women.
This is the 30th year of celebrating International Women’s Health Day. It originated during the International Women’s Health meeting in Costa Rica in 1987. Not long after began a multi-year campaign which focused on maternal mortality. It was a huge success and provided women’s organizations with greater access to information. It also brought to light the fact that there were huge gaps in research on women’s health. Up until this point the majority of research had been aimed at men. There wasn’t pertinent research in respect to women.
Afterwards, more national and international organizations began to work together, co-ordinating research and seminars. This resulted in a stronger impact. At this time, international groups such as the World Health Organization, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Bank have encouraged investing in funds to improve services and sponsor training and research programs.
Some examples of institutional violence against women include:
- Forced or coerced sterilization.
- Denial of access to contraception, including emergency contraception.
- Obstetric violence. This type of violence is a violation of women’s rights, including the rights to equality, freedom from discrimination, information, integrity, health and reproductive autonomy.
- Denial of the right to access safe and legal abortion services. This, as well as the criminalization of abortion is one of the most severe examples of institutional violence since it involves a woman’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
May 28th is a day of action recognized internationally. Organizations and individuals can celebrate this day around their own chosen topic that will advance women’s health rights. For more information on International Women’s Health Day, click here.