Birgitta Essén receives the Martin H:son Holmdahl Prize
This year’s Martin H:son Holmdahl Prize for human rights and freedoms is awarded to Professor Birgitta Essén, who works at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital. The prize committee particularly highlights her work on sexual and reproductive health and rights issues for immigrant women.
The Martin H:son Holmdahl Prize, which totals SEK 50,000, is Uppsala University’s main award for efforts to promote human rights and freedoms.
Birgitta Essén is a senior physician in obstetrics and gynaecology, professor of international women’s and maternal health care and lecturer at Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital. She has extensive international experience and is also heading an interdisciplinary research project funded by the Swedish Research Council in the field of migration and integration.
The reasons for the awarding of the prize are as follows:
“Birgitta Essén innovatively combines clinical medical research with anthropological approaches in active collaboration with religious representatives, politicians and civil society organisations. This has particularly been true of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues for immigrant women. She has focused on circumcision, honour-based violence and childbirth-related complications arising from linguistic and cultural circumstances.
Particularly noteworthy is the fact that Essén has also run and continues to run projects in migrants’ home countries, such as in Kurdish areas and in countries with such diverse cultural traditions as Iran, Somalia and Nicaragua. She has worked to provide culturally sensitive care without neglecting the principles of equal care and equal treatment.”
About the prize:
Martin H:son Holmdahl was the Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University between 1978 and 1989. He was strongly committed to human rights issues and emphasised the role of universities in particular. The prize was established in 2003 to mark Holmdahl’s 80th birthday. The university has continued to award the prize since Holmdahl passed away in 2015. A special committee appointed by the university’s Vice-Chancellor awards the prize. The current chairman is Senior Professor Peter Wallensteen.