Melissa Fairey

Melissa Fairey - 2016 Nominee
Position: Researcher/Advocate
Organization: AIDS Committee of York Region/Women Deliver
Melissa was selected as one of Women Deliver's Young Leaders program fellows for advocacy in sexual and reproductive health. She is on the board of directors for the AIDS Committee of York Region. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I am an advocate, a researcher, a development practitioner and a lifelong learner. But before I am any of these things, I am a woman. This is at the basis of my work in family planning and advocating on behalf of access to abortion services and safe sexual health practices. I am a Board of Directors members for the HIV/AIDS Committee of York Region, responsible for outreach, education and awareness to HIV populations in York Region. I have advocated and worked on committees for abortion services. I am also a Women Deliver Young Leader, focusing on advancing women's sexual and reproductive health on a global scale. My work abroad in Chile, Georgia and Indonesia has focused on community development and how to create sustainable development working with women. I am devoted to family planning.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I am passionate about women's rights and advocacy. To me, as a feminist, I cannot be an advocate for family planning without whole heartedly believing in the advancement of women's right to their own body. The intersectional approach between poverty, HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health has sparked my passion for family planning. Largely, the need for women, both globally, and locally, to have access to safe abortions and autonomy over their own decisions.

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

The biggest challenge I have faced in my family planning efforts have been to overcome sexism and different perspectives. HIV/AIDS advocacy and accessible abortion services are controversial and often difficult conversations to have with people who have strong opinions. I have overcome this by focusing my work on a sustainable community level directly with marginalized groups. I focus my efforts and energy with situations that can be changed and remain passionate, committed and dedicated.

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

One of the biggest challenges facing Canadian cities and rural ares in equal access to abortion services. Currently, abortion services are offered based on provincial standards instead of federal ones. This means that women are often required to leave the province at their own expense to receive abortion and family planning services. This can be addressed through federal mandate that makes sexual health clinics and abortion services available at every hospital or health care centre across Canada

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

I hope to be working, volunteering and advocating on behalf of organizations that are focusing on HIV/AIDS and women's sexual and reproductive health. I want to be apart of work and community that is making marked change in accessible sexual health in Canada's schools, hospitals and health care clinics for women and men. The necessary change comes in education and legislation and I hope to be a grassroots advocate for these developments. I want to have my daughters grow up in a better world.

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