Denise van Dijk

Denise van Dijk - 2017 Nominee
Position: President Global Public Health Sector Division
Organization: The Female Health Company
Current Location: The Netherlands, Europe
MPhil International Development Studies from University of Cambridge
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
Sep 2008 – Dec 2010 University College Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands
Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences
Focus on Anthropology, Development Studies and International Relations
Magna Cum Laude

Sep 2005 – Oct 2006 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
First year only: Bachelor Social and Cultural Anthropology

Sep 1998 – Jul 2004 Almere College Dronten/Kampen, Kampen, The Netherlands
Culture & Society, free choice Biology and Philosophy
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Prins Bernhard Fellow
    Awarding Organization:
    Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
    Date Awarded:
    June 6, 2011
  • Award:
    Viva 400 nomination
    Awarding Organization:
    Viva Netherlands
    Date Awarded:
    November 11, 2016
Defying the glass ceiling, Denise shows what it means to run a company that stays true to its mission: improving the sexual health & well-being for women around the world with the female condom. The perfect example of a young female role model! – Iris Weges, Communication Manager at The Female Health Company
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Within the last year of me being appointed as President of FHC I have worked with my team on:
- Expansion of availability of the FC2 female condom in 12 countries in Latin America, who previously did not have any female condoms in country
- Expansion of availability of the FC2 female condom in 5 countries in Africa
- Expansion of availability of the FC2 female condom in 1 country in Asia (Myanmar) who previously did not have any female condoms in country
- Launch of 3 new colored and 3 new scented female condoms, creating a total of 7 versions to cater to Choice of women and their partners
- Launch of a Female condom centered research database
- Launch of a new website with free resources for service providers in the field

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I met a women, 18 years old in the slums of Nairobi. She was HIV infected, and lived with her three year old HIV infected son and a baby of 6 months old, with HIV and TB co-infection. Her husband had an alcohol addiction and would only come home to beat her and take their money. She was evicted from her slum home as there was no money to pay the rent. I chipped in for the rent but wished I could do more. I decided to to focus on prevention so that other women had more chance and choice in life.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

As the head of the global public sector division of the female health company, leadership is my main job. Not only do I provide leadership to our fantastic team around the world, but in order to ensure availability of the female condom I also need to show leadership to governments of countries and donors by partnering with them to introduce the female condom to their country and ensure female empowerment and health through it.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

It would be an honor to be named the winner in the company of so many dedicated colleagues in the field. Should I win it would help us to gain even more recognition for the need of the female condom worldwide as the only dual protection device in the world that is under the control of women. We would use the $1000,- for an acceptability study of the FC2 female condom in Chili, that the ministry of health has requested. It is our entry point to new availability of the FC2 for women in Chili.

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