LAFF Society


“Icons and Activists”: Changemakers Honored by UNFPA


A book published by the United Nations to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) includes people associated with the Ford Foundation who, with the others profiled in the book, “transformed the lives of women and girls”.
The book, Icons & Activists: 50 years of people making change, is available online.
Natalia Kanem, Under-Secretary General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UNFPA, notes in the book’s foreword that its publication also marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the “landmark” 1994 international Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo. 
“Their stories,” she writes of those mentioned in the book, “represent countless valiant others who have likewise made a difference. Their stories illuminate how far we have come —and how far we need to go.” 
Kanem writes that, over the last 50 years, UNFPA has “transformed the lives of women and girls by insisting upon their right to sexual and reproductive health as a fundamental part of their power over their own bodies and to realize their full potential.” 
She adds, introducing the people profiled in the book, that, “As we seek to tear down the remaining barriers standing between women and girls and their rights and choices, let us appreciate all the leaders and activists that over the generations stood by our side and accelerated change.”
Those honored from the Foundation are listed here in the order in which they appear in the book, with comments from their citations.
Adrienne Germain is noted for her “long career reshaping global development and funding priorities. She is recognized as one of the pioneers linking fertility and population policies with the status of women as far back as 1975.”
Lincoln Chen, former president of the China Medical Board, “was an early proponent of (the Cairo conference’s) call to link population policy to human development and human rights. A longstanding passion has been shaping a new generation of health-care leaders dedicated to equity and social justice.”
Susan Berresford, a former president of the Ford Foundation, “led the charge” of Ford in “stressing investment in women so they can make their own choices”, promoting programs and initiatives led, among others, by Jose Barzelatto, Margaret Hempel and Susan Davis
Yolanda Richardson, in several positions over the years, applied her skills “to advance human rights, gender equality and access to health care.”
Barbara Klugman “studies how change happens, including by analyzing organizational networks—especially those pushing for gender equality and social justice. It was a skill she honed while helping civil society organizations imagine policies for post-apartheid South Africa, and during negotiations around world conferences on population and development….”
Cecile Richards, a member of Ford’s Board of Trustees, “has used her political savvy to staunchly defend sexual and reproductive rights throughout her long tenure as head of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America…one of the most reliable providers of integrated, affordable reproductive health services.”
Radhika Balakrishnan, faculty director at the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and a professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, “has spent a career probing gender, economics and human rights. Through numerous scholarly works, she has sought to shift perspectives on economic policies by applying international human rights norms.” 
Jocelyn DeJong is “an expert on health and gender issues in the Arab world” who, after the Cairo conference “opened space for the international community and non-governmental organizations to discuss female genital mutilation…was instrumental in setting up the first task force on the practice in Egypt.” 
Leila Hessini is a “thought leader, grantmaker and bridge builder” who has brought her “multicultural background and feminist perspective to her work amplifying the power of broad-based movements to advance human rights, gender equality and economic and reproductive justice.”



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