Migration and equity in sexual and reproductive health

Providers in reproductive health are encouraged to incorporate gender equality perspectives, as well as provide services sensitive to other cultures. How handle the conflict of values?

Clinical encounters as contentious space in a multicultural society

Sweden is considered the most gender equal country according to the World Values Survey (WVS), making it a country with extremely liberal and egalitarian values regarding equity and reproductive rights. Sweden is a multicultural country, where many migrants come from the Middle East where people have cultural values in sharp contrast to the liberal values dominant in Sweden.

Providers in reproductive health services are encouraged to incorporate gender equality perspectives while providing services. Our earlier research, on migrants and maternity encounters, shows a good accessibility but this does not ensure equitable care. Care-related preconceptions grounded in different sociocultural traditions and miscommunication were explanatory factors to the adverse pregnancy outcomes. Based on our previous studies, we hypothesize that the sexual and reproductive health services, such as abortion and family planning, are potential contentious spaces but also a source of solutions on how to deal with the sensitive but fundamental values related to reproductive rights.

Thus, in this project we will continue exploring the differences in cultural values between providers and migrants and the change over time and potential prejudices (Study 1). We assume that providers and migrants encountering cross-cultural conflicts of values develop practical solutions. Thus, the second study aims to catch these strategies and explore why they have been considered successful (Study 2). In coproduction study 3, based on results from study 1 and 2, tools to assist providers to address value conflicts, reflecting of their own values and to ensure equity in sexual reproductive health in an ethnically diversified society, will be developed and evaluated. The team is interdisciplinary with resaerchers from public health, gynaecology, anthropology, and norm research related to WVS. A well-established network among the Middle East communities gives a unique access to the entry into the field.

IFFS is a project partner in this project, and below are listed the people at IFFS who participate in the project. The project is based at Uppsala University where you find the project manager Birgitta Essén.



Principal Investigator

Birgitta Essén, Uppsala University

Project members

Minna Persson Master’s degrees in Linguistics, Migration
Pontus Strimling Associate Professor, Economics
Andrey Tibajev PhD, Ethnic and Migration Studies
Irina Vartanova PhD, Psychology


Forte & Swedish Research Council