Cover of When Misfortune Becomes Injustice by Alicia Ely Yamin
When Misfortune Becomes Injustice
Evolving Human Rights Struggles for Health and Social Equality
Alicia Ely Yamin


February 2020
312 pages.
from $26.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503605411
Paper ISBN: 9781503611306


Excerpts and More

When Misfortune Becomes Injustice surveys the progress and challenges faced in deploying human rights to advance health and social equality over the last thirty years, with a particular focus on women's health and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Alicia Ely Yamin weaves together firsthand experience as an academic, practitioner, and advocate, with arguments drawn from law, public health,economics and democratic theory, to explore how evolving international and national legal norms, the advent of medical and technological discoveries, and economic policies have interacted in the realization of health-related rights.

When Misfortune Becomes Injustice tells a story of extraordinary progress with respect to health-related rights over the last few decades, in both conceptual frameworks and diverse people's lived realities. However, Yamin shows that over these same years economic reforms at global and national levels, shrank the political space necessary to realize a robust agenda in health and other social rights. In the face of ballooning inequality, a loss of confidence in democratic institutions and multilateralism, and existential threats posed by climate change today, Yamin proposes a re-energized human rights praxis to promote health, gender equality and social justice.

About the author

Alicia Ely Yamin has spent half of her professional career working outside the United States, with and through local organizations. She currently leads the Global Health and Rights Project, a collaboration of the Petrie-Flom Center on Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator at Harvard University. Yamin is known globally for her pioneering scholarship and advocacy in relation to economic and social rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the right to health.

"In When Misfortune Becomes Injustice, Yamin draws on years of practical field experience to speak with unique authority among human rights scholars about the global and national dynamics that systematically produce poverty and health inequalities across the world."

—Paul E. Farmer, Harvard University

"In this reflective work drawing on her journey as a scholar and activist for health and human rights, Yamin makes a compelling case for why the praxis of human rights—human rights for social change—must be rethought to meet the challenges of hyper-globalization in the twenty-first century."

—Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, The New School