Approximately 11.7 million people are detained globally, with an observed rise in the female prison population in recent years. A range of human rights treaties, and non-binding minimum standards of care (2016 Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules), 2010 Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules)) protect the rights of prisoners. States however have discretion in defining humane treatment and adequate medical care in detention settings.In this Review Essay, we focus on the right to health of detained women based on an environment conducive to adequate health, and access to gender-responsive, non-discriminatory healthcare in detention equivalent to that in the community. We scrutinized all United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Committee against Torture Concluding Observations published since 2010, and provide a global illustration of violations of women’s health rights in detention settings to date. We document the inadequate accommodation and standards of detention of women, and inadequate access to healthcare services while detained, particularly relating to HIV and reproductive health, and mental health and drug dependence treatment in some countries. Human rights violations identified in the Concluding Observations reflect 39 countries and are presented as: the United Nations Committee description of their concern pertaining to a country’s treatment of women in detention; and collectively in terms of the particular Bangkok Rule (5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 14–16, 34, 35, 48 and 51).Our investigation raises general questions around the continued lack of resourcing of female detention settings and gender-responsive healthcare programming, the lack of data and advocacy on behalf of detained women, and the lack of routine scrutiny of the unique health rights assurances of women within independent monitoring and inspection in detention settings all over the world.