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Women's Global Health and Human Rights

Author(s): Padmini Murthy, MD, MPH, MS, CHES, New York Medical College School of Public Health, Valhalla, New York
Clyde Lanford Smith, MD, MPH, DTM&H, FACP, Associate Professor of Medicine and of Family & Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York
  • ISBN-13: 9780763756314
  • Paperback    556 pages      © 2010
Price: $170.95 US List
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Instructor Resources: TestBank, PowerPoints

Women’s Global Health and Human Rights serves as an overview of the challenges faced by women in different regions of the world. Ideal as a tool for both professionals and students, this book discusses the similarities and differences in health and human rights challenges that are faced by women globally. Best practices and success stories are also included in this timely and important text.

 Major Topics include:

  • Globalization
  • Gender Based Terrorism and Violence
  • Cultural Practices
  • Health Problems
  • Progress and Challenges

From the Preface:
“Women in this day and age are denied their fundamental right to enjoy a complete state of heath as defined by the World Health Organization…This book is unique in that it addresses the similarities and differences in health and human rights challenges faced by women in different regions of the world. The diversity of backgrounds and geographic locations of the invited authors contributes to the book's richness of content. It is meant to be a text which inspires and educates its readers toward positive action.”

—Padmini Murthy and Clyde Lanford Smith

“Drs. Murthy and Smith deserve great credit for assembling an outstanding team of human rights activists, health practitioners and scholars, who define with passion and compassion the challenges of transforming the slogan of ‘women's rights are human rights’ from aspiration to realization.”

Stephen P. Marks, François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Health and Human RightsDepartment of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health



Section I Introduction   
  Chapter 1. Global Women’s Health and Human Rights   
Section II Impact of Gender-Based Violence, Conflict, Discrimination, Terrorism, Environmental Factors and Transnational Trafficking on Women and the   
  Chapter 2. Violence Against Women and the Girl-Child: A Silent Global Pandemic   
  Chapter 3. Impact and Effects of Terrorism on Women and the Girl-Child   
  Chapter 4. War, Women, and Girls  
  Chapter 5. Women and Children in War and Complex Emergencies: Human Rights, the Humanitarian Endeavor, and Progress Towards Equality  
  Chapter 6. Human Trafficking: A Modern Plague   
  Chapter 7. Shadows on the Sunshine of Women’s Global Health and Human Rights: the Global Gag Rule, Tuskegee and HIV Studies, Tobacco Marketing, Tortur  
  Chapter 8. Going Negative: How Reproductive Rights Discourse Has Been Altered from a Positive to a Negative Rights Framework in Support of "Women’s Ri  
Section III Women, Economics, and Human Rights  
  Chapter 9. More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing  
  Chapter 10. Globalization, Development, and Health: A Political-Economic Perspective on the Global Struggle for Health  
Section IV Health: Problems and Challenges Specific to Women, Including Chronic Diseases and Their Global Burden  
  Chapter 11. The AIDS Pandemic and Women’s Rights  
  Chapter 12. Poor, Black, and Female: The Growing Face of AIDS in the United States  
  Chapter 13. Cardiovascular Disease in Women: Risk Factors and Risk Reduction  
  Chapter 14. The Global Scourge of the 21st Century–Diabetes–and Worse for Women  
  Chapter 15. Neurological Disorders in Women  
  Chapter 16. Women’s Musculoskeletal Health  
  Chapter 17. Sexual and Reproductive Health: Women’s Health Is Society's Wealth   
  Chapter 18. The Impact of Chronic Kidney Disease on the Girl-Child  
  Chapter 19. Breast Cancer in Women: A Public Health Perspective  
  Chapter 20. Cervical Cancer Mortality: A Preventable Tragedy  
  Chapter 21. Maternal Mortality: The Eye of the Storm  
  Chapter 22. Ensuring a Woman's Right to Survive Childbirth: Preventing Mortality from Postpartum Hemorrhage  
  Chapter 23. Infertility in Developing Countries: Scope, Psychosocial Burden, and the Need for Action  
  Chapter 24. Vaccines and Women: Cultural and Structural Issues for Acceptability  
  Chapter 25. Infectious Diseases and Women’s Human Rights  
  Chapter 26. Women and Disability  
  Chapter 27. Women with Disabilities in Education: The United States and the Americans with Disabilities Act  
  Chapter 28. Blindness and Social Stigma in Women and the Girl-Child  
  Chapter 29. Older Women's Access to Health and Human Rights  
  Chapter 30. Palliative Care and End-of-Life Issues  
Section V Effects of Cultural Practices, Environment, and Migration on Women and the Girl-Child  
  Chapter 31. Breastfeeding: A Biological, Ecological, and Human Rights Imperative for Global Health  
  Chapter 32. Gender Equality Is Not Just a Women’s Issue, But a Development and a Human Rights Issue   
  Chapter 33. Water and Sanitation   
  Chapter 34. Society, Exercise, and Women  
  Chapter 35. A Woman’s Sexuality  
  Chapter 36. FGM–The Clinician’s Perspective  
  Chapter 37. Practice and Problems in Occupational Health for Women  
Section VI Challenges and Progress  
  Chapter 38. Women’s Engagement Essential to Building the Culture of Peace  
  Chapter 39. Women's Health in a Multicultural World: Challenges and Progress in Africa  
  Chapter 40. Being a Woman in Rural India  
  Chapter 41. From Alma-Ata to Millennium Development Goals: Status of Women’s Health in the 21st Century  
Section VII Conclusion  
Chapter 42. Promoting a Human Rights-Based Approach to Women’s Health  

Padmini Murthy, MD, MPH, MS, CHES-New York Medical College School of Public Health, Valhalla, New York

Padmini (Mini) Murthy is a physician and an activist who did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has practiced medicine in various countries. She has a Masters in Public Health and a Masters in Management from New York University. She is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.  Murthy has presented at numerous national and international conferences, and has been the recipient of several awards including The Dean’s Award for Excellence at NYU School of Education. She was named Robert F. Wagner Public service scholar at NYU, is a member of the “Phi Theta Lambda Honor Society,” and was awarded “Best Physician Award” at work place by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia. Murthy has served as a consultant to the United Nations and serves on the executive board of several national and international health non-governmental organizations.

Currently she is Assistant Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management and Global Health Program Director at New York Medical College School of Public Health. Murthy is the NGO Representative of Medical Women International Association to the United Nations. As program Director of International Health Awareness Network (an international NGO) she has been actively working with other board members  to  improve the lives of women and children in developing countries. She serves as American Public Health Association Committee Member on Women's Rights and Section Counseor in the International Health Section.

Her research interests include women’s health with an emphasis on violence against women and HIV/AIDS. Murthy has been a champion women's rights issue with a focus on gender inequalities in health care delivery and policies.

Clyde Lanford Smith, MD, MPH, DTM&H, FACP-Associate Professor of Medicine and of Family & Social Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York

Clyde Lanford (Lanny) Smith is a writer and a physician, having majored in English literature and trained in primary care internal medicine, tropical medicine, and preventive medicine. He earned a masters in public health from Harvard School of Public Health and a diploma in tropical medicine and hygiene from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. From 1992 to 1998 he lived in El Salvador as Country Director of Médecins du Monde (Physicians of the World) France. Smith is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He has been the recipient of Davidson College’s John Kuykendall Community Service Award for leadership in service to humankind and of the Mid-Career Award in International Health of the American Public Health Association. He serves on the board of the Global Health Education Consortium (GHEC) and on the global Steering Committee of the People’s Health Movement (PHM). Founder of Doctors for Global Health (DGH, www.dghonline. org) and its first president from 1995–2000, he continues to serve on its board with the President’s Council and as Liberation Medicine Counsel. He is cofounder of the Journal of Social Medicine (www.socialmedicine. info) and serves on its editorial board. He is on the editorial board of the journal Revista De Educação Popular of the Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Minas Gerais, Brasil. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and Clinical Family & Social Medicine in the Residency Programs in Primary Care and Social Internal Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) and serves as Global Health Advisor at AECOM. Within Montefiore, he is Director of the Opportunities Pro-Immigrant Elderly and Newcomer and International Travel (OPEN IT) Program, Assistant Director of the Bronx Human Rights Clinic for Survivors of Torture, and cares for patients regularly as a primary care physician in the South Bronx Comprehensive Health Care Center. His research interests include social medicine, liberation medicine, community-oriented primary care, tropical medicine, and health education. Smith has lived in the Bronx since 2000 and works locally and globally to promote liberation medicine, “the conscious, conscientious use of health to promote social justice and human dignity.” His upcoming book Una Sola Vida: Lecciones hasta la Salud y la Justicia Social (One Life Only: Lessons Toward Health and Social Justice) will be available in July 2009 from Ediciones Corpus Lirio, Rosario, Argentina.
  • "You will not find a more comprehensive collection of articles that hit on the primary issues in the field. Perfect for teaching an undergraduate audience."

    —Dr. Yasmina Katsulis, Assistant Professor, Women and Gender Studies Program
    Honors Faculty and Faculty Honors Advisor, Arizona State University



    "Previous books in this area have addressed some of the issues influencing women's health; this book goes beyond to include current and emerging issues such as wars, terrorism, and human trafficking, as well as harmful cultural practices and their impact on women's physical and mental health. As a scholar in the area of women's health, I highly recommend this book as an excellent resource for a variety of professionals, students, consumers, and policy makers in the various domains of women's health."

    —Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine (For Doody's Book Review Service, July 24, 2009)



    “Women’s Global Health and Human Rights is a treasure trove for activists, academics and practitioners struggling to understand the dynamics of globalization and how it affects the everyday lives and health of women around the world.  Driven by a social justice framework, the collection demonstrates how health and well-being are shaped by the political, cultural and economic structures of our world. At a time of global financial crisis when governments are finally rejecting neo-liberalism and searching for alternative development paths this book provides much needed illumination. It will be an essential handbook for all those involved in the global struggle for health and justice.”

    —Fran Baum, Co-Chair, Global Steering Council People’s Health Movement, Commissioner, Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, Director Southgate Institute for Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University Adelaide, Australia


    “In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt identified health as part of the four essential freedoms and listed health as one of the rights needed for economic security without which ‘true individual freedom cannot exist’. While more recently Amartya Sen has further expanded this concept of the rights to health as integral to freedom, the WHO has argued that "[W]ithout health, other rights have little meaning." Padmini Murthy's exploration of the right to health challenges and enriches our understanding of rights and freedoms and provides a critical gender perspective to the literature on economic, social and cultural rights."                                                                                                                        

    —Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Director of International Human Rights Policy, Wellesley Centers for Women, Wellesley College


    "Education and health are inextricably linked human rights: to engage in education one must be healthy enough to participate in learning; to care for herself and others, women must be able to access the information with which to do so effectively.  This book is a vital resource for those who believe in and advocate for improved access to health and education for women and girls throughout the world.”

    —Alison Overseth, President, Board of Directors, Partnership for After School Education, Vice chair Board of Directors, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute


    “At a time when human suffering is on the rise, the disease is easy to identify -- greed, violence, inequity and discrimination in all its forms.  Women, and their children, are often the first and most ravaged by such a disease.  This impressive work by some of the greatest thinkers of our time makes an overall compelling argument that the cure lies in the recognition and protection of basic human rights, in particular economic and social rights.  The right to health, and all other rights upon which it depends such as housing, food and security, carries a demand that we build rational and effective social systems centered on human development and human dignity.  We can afford to ask no less of ourselves.”

    —Cathy Albisa, Executive Director, National Economic and Social Rights Initiative


    “Shockingly women still suffer so much, from violence, trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, war, and avoidable illness. Their rights to health are often ignored. This book explains what can and must be done. It is essential reading for all those who want to see women’s rights respected, in health, in peace and in development, and who have a vision of that goal finally being achieved”

    —Richard Alderslade, Chief Executive of the Children’s High Level Group, London, Adjunct Professor of Public and Health Administration at the  Robert F Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, Former Senior External Relations Officer at the WHO Office at the United Nations in New York


    “This is THE call to action. A movement to raise awareness and fight unnecessary disease and deaths among  half our planet’s inhabitants who suffer ill health and violence simply due to their gender. Drs. Murthy and Smith, along with an impressive cast of international professionals, are the authors of a true movement. Their work finally makes  the fifth Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality a moral global  commitment and a reachable reality. "This book is a must read for politicians, health providers, students and all who believe in justice and fairness for all independent of race, gender, origin or economic status.”

    —Elvira Beracochea, MD. MPH, Author, Speaker and Global Health Expert, President, MIDEGO, Inc., Chair of the Board, Health for All NOW Foundation, Member, International Human Rights Committee of the American Public Health Association


    “There is an urgent need in the world for attention, political will and financial support to ensure women's rights.  Equality for women cannot be merely an ideal -- it must become a reality soon.  No nation can fully develop economically without the participation of half its citizens.  The authors of this book frame the fight for the basic human right of every woman to a life of health, dignity and respect.  I expect readers to be inspired to take action to ensure that globally, everywoman is guaranteed a life of health and dignity.”

    —Anika Rahman, President, Americans for UNFPA


    “Women's empowerment and health are inextricably linked. Both hinge on securing human rights, irrespective of geographic boundaries.  The transnational discourse this book presents is a critical piece of scholarship for all public health advocates concerned about how the global and local affect women.”

    —Mehret Mandefro, MD, MSc, Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Senior Fellow,, Managing Editor, Featured in documentary film "All of Us"


    "Murthy & Smith’s Women’s Global Health and Human Rights reinforces the promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  that everyone has the right to quality health care.”

    —Kathleen Durham, Executive Director, Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill



    "Women's empowerment and health are inextricably linked. Both hinge on securing human rights,  irrespective of geographic boundaries.  The transnational discourse this book presents is a critical piece of scholarship for all public health advocates concerned about how the global and local affect women."

    —Mehret Mandefro, MD, MSc, Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, University of Pennsylvania, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, Senior Fellow,, Managing Editor , Featured in documentary film "All of Us"



    "As former WHO Director-General, Gro Harlem Brundtland, once said, "No country treats their women the same as they treat their men."  Gender differences play a very significant role in the different burden of disease between men and women.  Adding a gender perspective means more than talking about how diseases are different between females and males.  It also means looking at the gender roles and norms and the balance of power between women and men.  This book by Dr. Murthy and Dr. Smith will go a long way in bringing understanding and solutions to ensure that women and girls have access to the health care that is their human right."           

    —Shelley Ross, MD, Secretary-General,, Medical Women's International Association

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ISBN-13: 9780763756314

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