Grace Sheehy

Grace Sheehy - 2016 Nominee
Position: Co-Founder; Fellow and Project Manager
Organization: Nyi Ma Lay, non-profit in Myanmar; Cambridge Reproductive Health Consultants
Grace Sheehy is not only an outstanding researcher and advocate, but she has an incredible understanding of SRH problems in international contexts and is a leader in women and youth sexual health. – Jillian Gedeon, Co-Executive Director at International Youth Alliance for Family Planning
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I have been contributing to the field of family planning for four years, combining research, advocacy and education to create and disseminate data, and raise awareness about family planning and sexual and reproductive health issues in Canada and in Southeast Asia. I co-founded a non-profit in Myanmar that works to make information about sexual and reproductive health interesting and accessible for Myanmar youth, and I also co-lead research in Canada and Myanmar about family planning and other sexual and reproductive health subjects.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My passion was sparked once I recognized the injustice of disparities in access to family planning and other sexual and reproductive health products and services - products and services that should be a human right but are consistently denied to people (and especially youth) around the world. Working in my home country of Canada as well as in Southeast Asia exposed me to the reality of these injustices across and between borders, as I saw these disparities play out at home and abroad.

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

In Canada, significant barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health services, like safe abortion care, are a big challenge. Geographic disparities intersect with socioeconomic disparities to make services that are technically available inaccessible to a lot of people, especially young people. The contraceptive implant is also not available in Canada, in part due to a lack of awareness about this method. Getting people to realize that these issues do exist here is a challenge.

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

In the next five years, I want to find innovative ways to engage Canadians in advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights at home and abroad. I want to make the implant available in Canada, and I want to improve access to and awareness of the currently available methods and services.

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