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Ebook Information

Health Equity in Brazil

Intersections of Gender, Race, and Policy

The effect of women's activism on public health in Brazil

Brazil's leadership role in the fight against HIV has brought its public health system widespread praise. But the nation still faces serious health challenges and inequities. Though home to the world's second largest African-descendant population, Brazil failed to address many of its public health issues that disproportionately impact Afro-Brazilian women and men.

Kia Lilly Caldwell draws on twenty years of engagement with activists, issues, and policy initiatives to document how the country's feminist health movement and black women's movement have fought for much-needed changes in women's health. Merging ethnography with a historical analysis of policies and programs, Caldwell offers a close examination of institutional and structural factors that have impacted the quest for gender and racial health equity in Brazil. As she shows, activists have played an essential role in policy development in areas ranging from maternal mortality to female sterilization. Caldwell's insightful portrait of the public health system also details how its weaknesses contribute to ongoing failures and challenges while also imperiling the advances that have been made.

"Groundbreaking in that it details specific health policies that have been advocated for and implemented in Brazil to ameliorate racial inequality in the health sector as well as society at large. Caldwell's intersectional approach and centering of black women's experiences and activism is unique."--Erica L. Williams, author of Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

"Caldwell’s richly detailed study offers unique insights into the racial, class, and gender dimensions of health activism and public policy in Brazil, paying particular attention to the intersections evident in HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality policies. The book shines new light on rarely examined facets of Afro-Brazilian women’s struggles. The first full-length monograph available in English to deploy an intersectional and transnational analytical lens, it draws on over two decades of engagement with key activists, issues, and texts crucial to Black, feminist, and Afro-descendant women’s efforts to promote health equity. The book will be most welcome by rights advocates and scholars seeking to enhance gendered racial justice in Brazil, the U.S., and beyond."—Sonia E. Alvarez, coeditor of Beyond Civil Society: Activism, Participation, and Protest in Latin America


Kia Lilly Caldwell is an associate professor of African, African American, and Diaspora studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is the author of Negras in Brazil: Re-envisioning Black Women, Citizenship, and the Politics of Identity.

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