[Brussels, 10 March 2011] The European Parliament (EP) on 8 March adopted a Resolution on ‘Reducing health inequalities in the EU’ that includes many recommendations advanced and supported by the EWL in relation to women’s health. The Resolution was adopted by 379 votes in favour, 228 against and 49 abstentions.
The Resolution is a significant step forward in ensuring equitable access to healthcare for all women, with no discrimination linked to administrative status or financial resources. Even if the text is not legally binding for the EU member states, it is a clear message sent by the only directly elected body of the EU to European and national decision-makers to tackle the health inequalities that women face.
In this Resolution, the EP puts forward many recommendations that were in EWL Position Paper on women’s health, among them:
- the recognition of male violence against women as a public health issue (recital U; paragraph 28)
- the recognition of sexual and reproductive rights: the EP "considers that the EU and the Member States should guarantee women easy access to methods of contraception and the right to safe abortion" (paragraph 25)
- the inclusion of health status of women in gender mainstreaming and the use of gender budgeting in health policies, programmes and research (paragraph 24)
- the need to pay attention to the needs of different vulnerable groups, including women with disabilities or migrant women (paragraph 4, 6, 7, 23, 27). It "recalls the EU’s obligation, under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to guarantee the right of persons with disabilities to the highest attainable standard of health without discrimination on the grounds of disability; insists that the inclusion of disability in all relevant health measurement indicators is a key step towards meeting this obligation".
- the improved and non-discriminatory access to Assisted Reproductive technologies (paragraph 29)
- the rights of undocumented migrant women, men and children to have access to health care: it states that “health inequalities are not only the result of a host of economic, environmental and lifestyle-related factors, but also of problems relating to access to healthcare”; and that “equitable access to healthcare is not secured, not only in practice but also in law, for undocumented migrants in many EU countries”. The EP calls on the Member States “to ensure that the most vulnerable groups, including undocumented migrants, are entitled to and are provided equitable access to healthcare”; “to assess the feasibility to support healthcare for irregular migrants by providing a definition based on common principles for basic elements of healthcare as defined by their national legislation”; and “to ensure all pregnant women and children, irrespective of their status, are entitled to and effectively benefit from social protection as defined in their national legislation”.
You can read the full text of the Resolution as it has been adopted by the European Parliament here.
This achievement is the result of years of hard work done by women and migrants’ organisations, advocates and policy makers. Many of them gathered in the European Parliament on 8 December 2010, on the occasion of a Public Hearing, organised by Médecins du Monde, the HUMA network, PICUM, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and the European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN), that highlighted how undocumented migrants – especially undocumented pregnant women and children – are threatened by both legislative and practical barriers when trying to access healthcare.
View the photos of the Public Hearing on Flikr and watch the videos (EN-FR) of the Public Hearing here:
Video of the Public Hearing ENGLISH - SHORT VERSION (3mins)
Video of the Public Hearing ENGLISH (12mins)
Video de l’audition publique FRANCAIS (12mins)