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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.160

Grass-root and women‘ s rights activism and the gradual bottom-up transformation of the obstetrics care in Slovakia


  • Dr. Zuzana PEŠŤANSKÁ

Primary authors


In this paper I will discuss the contributions of the Romani and Non-Romani women‘ s rights activism to the process of the transformation of the obstetrics care in Slovakia. On an example of an analysis of the grass-root and human rights activism of women from diverse social and ethnic background I will (1) describe how the structural violence that is present in the Slovak obstetrics care system mirror the social position of the women; (3) interpret the inequalities between women in the movement for changes in the maternity care; and (2) illustrate the examples of changes in local maternity ward that happened after the long-lasting interventions and efforts of the activists. The analysis builds on my long-term ethnographic field work in the hospital and women‘ s movement environment. Both Romani and Non-Romani activists and grass-root initiatives identified the demonstration of the power, disrespectful and degrading approach of the medical practitioners, violations of the basic human rights and freedoms as the main objectives against the obstetrics and postnatal care. Social and ethnic stereotypes that are embedded in the obstetrics care caused that the experiences of Romani women are different (e.i. segregation in the maternity wards). Moreover the social and ethnic differences between women have got impact on the forms and effectiveness of their activism. Although the activists observed some changes in providing obstetrics care in concrete maternity wards, these changes are not systematic and on a national scale.