ASPPH logo


Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Columbia Professor Named a Technical Advisor to the UN Health and Human Rights Working Group

Dr. Lynn Freedman, Mailman School professor of population and family health and director of the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) Program, was named to the technical advisory group of the High Level Working Group for the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children, and Adolescents established by the World Health Organization and the UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. The working group responds to the global demand of the Sustainable Development Goals that no one be left behind and that access to health and human rights is expanded for women, children and adolescents everywhere.

[Photo: Dr. Lynn Freedman]

“The Working Group provides a rare opportunity to go beyond the broad consensus that human rights matter to health, and to consider, with a group of influential global leaders, the difficult, often contentious, steps that must be taken for these rights to have meaning in practice.  And not just in the global south, but in all of our countries, ” said Freedman. As director of AMDD, Dr. Freedman has worked with UN agencies, NGOs, and governments in more than 50 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to reduce maternal mortality. Professor Freedman has published widely on issues of maternal mortality and on health and human rights, with a particular focus on gender and women’s health. She also serves on the advisory boards of maternal health projects and human rights projects with programs in Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.

The working group is tasked with generating high-level nation and international political support for the implementation of the human rights-related measures called for under the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030). Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Global Strategy last year with world leaders and heads of state to ensure both the survival of women, children and adolescents and that they can thrive and play a key role in the development of their communities and societies. This includes guidance on how human rights can be integrated into health programming, and how the impact of human rights on health outcomes can be better measured.

Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and Hina Jilani, a leading human rights expert and member of The Elders, an organization of former statespersons founded by Nelson Mandela, are co-chairs of the working group which will issue its initial recommendations at the World Health Assembly and Human Rights Council in the spring of 2017.