Alia Eyres

Alia Eyres - 2016 Nominee
Position: CEO Mother's Choice, Hong Kong
Organization: Mother's Choice
Alia is a pioneer in tackling high teenage crisis pregnancy rates in Hong Kong by providing loving, non-judgmental support and options to girls aged 12-18, and by introducing high-quality sexuality education programs into local schools. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

When I became CEO of Mother’s Choice in 2012, we had been delivering sex education in schools for over 10 years, but our team running the programs were responsible both for services supporting teenagers facing crisis pregnancy, and teaching sex education in high schools. The crises always took priority, and the sex education programs did not have the depth and impact that we hoped for. In 2014, I introduced a new department to focus on prevention, hired an experienced Family Planning Project Manager, trained teachers (rather than social workers, as were previously used), and introduced a new curriculum to deliver Comprehensive Sexuality Education in schools

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My parents co-founded Mother’s Choice when I was nine years old, and throughout my teenage years I met many girls the same age as me who were facing a crisis pregnancy. While I was preoccupied with friends and school, they were making decisions about their pregnancies, and their futures. I was so inspired by their courage, and my heart broke for them to be in this position. This sparked my passion for family planning, and I’m grateful that I was exposed to this from such a young age.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

One of the most devastating challenges I have experienced is the cycle of crisis pregnancy through the generations. We see teenage girls who choose to parent their own babies without support, who end up placing their children into institutional care. These children are then more likely to become pregnant as teenagers themselves. We needed to disrupt this cycle and introduced a program to mentor our teenage moms, give them sexuality education and provide support when they need it.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Hong Kong’s biggest challenge in family planning is that our culture does not like to talk about sex and relationships. Sex education in schools is minimal, and its focus is on abstinence and the negative consequences of having sex. By delivering more comprehensive sexuality education, we’re sharing openly about topics including decision making, healthy friendships and relationships. We’re also running more parenting workshops to encourage families to start the conversation with their children.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

In five years, I want to see evidence of reduced instances of teen crisis pregnancy in Hong Kong. I not only want to see fewer crisis pregnancies in Hong Kong, but I also want to see teens who experience a crisis to receive the support they need so that the cycle does not continue. In the next five years, I want to see our Comprehensive Sexuality Programs delivered in 100% of schools with high teenage pregnancy rates.

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