Workshops Notes

 World Trade Agreements, Reproductive Rights and Access to Health Care.

author: teo

a workshop organisad by Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights

The main topics covered by the workshop were: presenting the Women's Global Network and People's Health Movement, defining reproductive health; the impact of globalisation and privatisation on women's health with examples from various parts of the world. Most of the participants declared at the beginning that they know nothing about the subject and that they came to learn, but in the end it turned out that they knew already facts from their countries and that this workshop was a great occasion to make new connections and see with different eyes.

First of all, reproductive health is far more than access to abortion. It's about access to services, it's about prevention health policies, including access to clean water and reasonable environmental factors.

There are certain structures that have an impact on this. Decisions and agreements in the frame of WTO, GATT, World Bank and International Monetary Fund do influence the life and deaths of million of women all over the world. From the '80 on, institutions like the World Bank have gradually taken over from national governments decision power in the health issues through their agreements. (the famous structural adjustments programes and conditions for loans). Basically they have pushed the national governments to decrease the funding for health services and leave room to privatised health care. This paradigm believes that charge fees, decentralisation and competition in the "market" will increase the efficiency. The reality is pretty different: poor people do not have access anymore. The prevention is not encouraged anymore but there is plenty of room for multinationals to make money selling the cures. The local women knowledge is tried to be patented and made money with as well. The colapse of the public funded health care also encourages a massive brain drain of doctors and nurses who find that one way of making a living is emigrating. There were numerous examples of the effects of introduction of user fees in various countries.

The opening of the countries to the global market also induced investments in industries hasardous to health. Oil spills do increase the rate of spontaneous abortions in affected areas. Wars induced by economical reasons have consequences beyons words.

There are paralels between water and health campaigns (but also a strong link, as clean water is indispensable to health) both are human right and the WTO traying to transform them into service industries increasing revenues of few rich, has dramatic consequences. For more info about the campaign and materials you can contact or visit

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