• News
  • Catalan Government launches a pioneering plan in Europe to tackle obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights
Conseller Balcells i consellera Verge

Catalan Government launches a pioneering plan in Europe to tackle obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights

event_note Press Release

Catalan Government launches a pioneering plan in Europe to tackle obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights

  1. The Plan, which has a budget of 7 million euros, will run for six years and includes over 50 initiatives, including an extensive training plan for professionals, the creation of committees to address obstetric violence, and reducing the number of unnecessary caesarean sections and operations, among other issues
  2. Produced in collaboration with industry professionals and experts, the Plan focuses on providing an effective guarantee of sexual and reproductive rights and improving the quality of the Catalan healthcare system


Conseller Balcells i consellera Verge{"name":"2024/01/09/16/30/9fe0618f-8c50-41b1-8f71-574eba0be81f.jpg","author":"Salut i Igualtat","type":"0","location":"0","weight":681420}

The Catalan Government, through its Ministry of Health and Ministry of Equality and Feminisms, has launched the Plan to address obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights, which has a budget of seven million euros. The Plan will run for six years (2023-2028) and includes over fifty initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and providing information on sexual and reproductive rights; increasing vocational education and training; and improving care and support services. The Plan, devised with the collaboration of experts, will ensure that these rights are fully guaranteed and will improve the quality of Catalonia's healthcare system, thereby putting an end to procedures that are incorrect, applied merely as routine, or not subject to the patient's consent.

Accordingly, the measures in the Plan, which is an internationally pioneering measure in its field, include the creation of obstetric violence committees in all health authority regions, reducing caesarean sections and other procedures carried out without due cause, increasing women's participation in decision-making, and improving access to reproductive medicine. Spaces will be allocated to ensure care is provided during deliveries in non-medical environments, and the number of birthing centres will be increased. The Plan also includes actions for specific groups, including the gradual adaptation of spaces and providing resources needed to care for people with disabilities or neurodivergence issues, based on the results of mapping.

This Plan aims to be a transformative instrument for both citizens and healthcare professionals, and it places particular emphasis on identifying and raising awareness of good practices for care that is based on respect and rights. One of the main themes of the Plan is the provision of training for professional teams, and it contains an ambitious training plan for the next six years. This includes a specific module for training resident health staff and other professionals in the Catalan healthcare system in sexual and reproductive rights. Specific training will also be provided in various areas including endometriosis and improving early diagnosis, improving contraceptive care, voluntary terminations of pregnancy, the health of transgender* people and perinatal mental health, and support after perinatal loss, among other issues.

The Minister for Equality and Feminisms, Tània Verge Mestre, stressed that “We are the first government in the world to adopt a Plan to address obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights. Our Plan leads the way in implementing the standards established by the World Health Organization (WHO),” she added.

Catalan Minister for Health Manel Balcells described the Plan as“positive”, and said that it entails“training, changes in habits and protocols that we must follow strictly, and that applies to the entire healthcare system – both public and private.”“The Plan aims to improve the situation, valuing people's rights, reaching consensus and making shared decisions,” he said.

Normalised and largely concealed violence

Catalonia is among the few countries in the world that has incorporated the fight against obstetric violence and the violation of sexual and reproductive rights into its legal framework. The Law on the right of women to eradicate gender-based violence (Law 17/2020, of 22 December, which amends Law 5/2008) is a pioneering recognition of this issue at a European level. Obstetric and gynaecological violence and how to address them is now on the agendas of multilateral organisations including United Nations agencies, such as the World Health Organization and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the European Union and the Council of Europe. Based on a feminist and human rights approach, this issue was conceived in terms of a violation of sexual and reproductive rights and as a form of violence against women.