Table of Contents

Handbook on Gender and Health

Handbook on Gender and Health

International Handbooks on Gender series

Edited by Jasmine Gideon

This Handbook brings together a groundbreaking collection of chapters that uses a gender lens to explore health, healthcare and health policy in both the Global South and North. Empirical evidence is drawn from a variety of different settings and points to the many ways in which the gendered dimensions of health have become reworked across the globe.

Chapter 29: Deconstructing human rights-based discourses: the case of women’s right to health and health sector reforms in Brazil

Marianna Leite

Subjects: development studies, family and gender policy, social policy and sociology, family and gender policy, health policy and economics


This chapter examines the political strategies and the bureaucratic processes related to the implementation of women’s human rights to health in health sector reforms in Brazil. It uses maternal health reduction political and policy strategies as a case study to assert whether or not the use of human rights-based discourses have incurred in a progressive policy praxis. It discusses the processes associated with the appropriation and reappropriation of feminist discourses by the different policy networks and their influence in the depoliticization of the wider human rights movement. This chapter therefore considers the extent to which progressive reproductive health strategies have been marginalized by the reform processes in Brazil’s health sector over the past three decades. This marginalization has had significant implications that are reflected in the country’s continued failure to effectively tackle maternal mortality as a priority.

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