Milena Bacalja Perianes

Milena Bacalja Perianes - 2017 Nominee
Position: Co-founder and Deputy-Director of the Menstrual Health Hub
Organization: The Menstrual Health Hub (MH Hub)
Current Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
MPhil in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies from University of Cambridge
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
RMIT: Masters in International Development
Monash University: Bachelor of Arts
Utrecht School of Entrepreneurship: The Fall School Entrepreneurship Programme
University of Sydney : Qualitative Health Research Methods Unit
Australian Red Cross, Melbourne: Red Cross International Humanitarian Action Training
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Patrick Moore Award
    Awarding Organization:
    Cambridge Australian Scholars
    Date Awarded:
    June 30, 2015
  • Award:
    Australian Youth Ambassador for Development (Mongolia)
    Awarding Organization:
    Date Awarded:
    April 1, 2012
Milena is a passionate gender and SRHR advocate. Her work as a founding member of the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network as well as co-founder and deputy director of the Menstrual Health Hub, are testament to her dedication to women's rights – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

My work and personal life are dedicated to advancing women's rights and their ability to make informed SRH decisions. As a founding member of the Commonwealth Youth Gender Equality Network, I work to advance SRHR as a priority area for young people's empowerment in regional and international fora. This includes awareness raising, developing training manuals on youth engagement, and building an activist network. With the MH Hub, I focus on menstruation as central to women and girls development, SRH, and wellbeing. By building an online platform, my Co-Founder and I are creating a community of practice that enables greater connection, collaboration and collective impact. Previously, I worked with grassroots organisations in East Africa and Asia to implement FP and HIV focused programmes.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Growing up in a feminist household instilled in me an awareness of gender inequality and the ways that women are often restricted in their social and economic participation. This led to a strong sense of social responsibility to improve the position of women and girls and advocate for their right to exercise choice over their lives and bodies. Seeing the role that stigma and taboo play over sexuality globally, motivated me to take up the issue of FP as a key means of achieving gender justice.

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

I developed, and ran a workshop on menstrual health in rural Malawi which focused on empowering women with the necessary knowledge, and tools to manage their menstrual cycle. This workshop was focused on menstrual health as a core aspect of women's reproductive health and tied in closely to broader FP issues. With the MH Hub, I am working to build the organisation itself, facilitate the community of practice, and raise the profile of menstrual health as central to women's health and wellbeing.

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? :

Not only would this be an honour but it would be an incredible opportunity to engage with other committed FP advocates. As a young woman in this field it is critical to be connected to, and learn from the experiences of my peers. I hope I would be able to find collaborators for my work, and learn new approaches to FP advocacy and community mobilisation. The grant would be used for an awareness raising campaign on menstrual health as central to woman's health and achieving gender equality.

Photos of the nominee in the field/at work
Dance and theatre are two of the effective tools for SRHR awareness raising in Malawi, Facilitating a workshop on menstrual cups in rural Malawi, After a fruitful advocacy meeting with the Australian Ambassador for Women and Girls at CHOGM, 2015 in Malta

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