Champion of Choice
The Life and Legacy of Women's Advocate Nafis Sadik
By Cathleen Miller
(University of Nebraska Press, Hardcover, 9780803211049, 536pp.)
Publication Date: March 2013
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Not many women can claim to have changed history, but Nafis Sadik set that goal in her youth, and change the world she did. Champion of Choice tells the remarkable story of how Sadik, born into a prominent Indian family in 1929, came to be the world’s foremost advocate for women’s health and reproductive rights, the first female director of a United Nations agency, and “one of the most powerful women in the world” (London Times).
An obstetrician, wife, mother, and devout Muslim, Sadik has been a courageous and tireless advocate for women, insisting on discussing the difficult issues that impact their lives: education, contraception, abortion, as well as rape and other forms of violence. After Sadik joined the fledgling UN Population Fund in 1971, her groundbreaking strategy for providing females with education and the tools to control their own fertility has dramatically influenced the global birthrate. This book is the first to examine Sadik’s contribution to history and the unconventional methods she has employed to go head-to-head with world leaders to improve millions of women’s lives.
Interspersed between the chapters recounting Sadik’s life are vignettes of females around the globe who represent her campaign against domestic abuse, child marriage, genital mutilation, and other human rights violations. With its insights into the political, religious, and domestic battles that have dominated women’s destinies, Sadik’s life story is as inspirational as it is dramatic.
Cathleen Miller circled the globe to interview the sources for this book. Her previous work includes the international bestseller Desert Flower, a tale of female genital mutilation that has been translated into fifty-five languages and adapted as a feature film. Miller’s travel essays have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times. She teaches creative writing at San José State University.
"Extensively researched, Miller's engrossing biography illuminates Sadik's formidable passion. . . . An indefatigable supporter, tenacious crusader, and powerful proponent of women’s autonomy, Sadik is a hero for all ages and genders."—Carol Haggas, Booklist starred review
"Nafis Sadik is a woman who set out to "change the world"—and in many ways she did just that."—Diane Brandley, New York Journal of Books
“Cathleen Miller’s Champion of Choice is a rigorous yet eloquent account of Dr. Sadik’s inspirational career, and a beautiful and long-awaited tribute to one of the greatest women’s advocates of the twentieth century. The issues to which Dr. Sadik has so passionately dedicated her life are becoming only more salient as our global community strives to protect both our people and our planet, and Dr. Sadik will certainly remain an invaluable and unequaled leader in this field for years to come.”—Ted Turner, UN Foundation Founder and Chairman and Founder of CNN
“Dr. Sadik’s invaluable contribution to improving maternal and child health deserves the gratitude of millions of people around the world.”—Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize
“Nafis Sadik is a great leader, one of the world’s most powerful women.”—Carolyn Maloney, U.S. congresswoman
“Nafis Sadik is an inspiration to women and girls worldwide through her tireless commitment to women’s empowerment and her understanding of the central importance of reproductive health.”—Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former United Nations high commissioner for human rights