Neelam Punjani

Neelam Punjani - 2019 Nominee
Position: Youth Champion
Organization: Rise Up
Current Location: Edmonton, Alberta
PhD in Nursing (Student) from University of Alberta
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
BScN (2010)- Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery
MScN (2014) -Aga Khan University School of Nursing and Midwifery

Additional Awards
• Nursing Graduate Student’s Association Prize for Excellence (2018-2019)
• Delta Kappa Gamma World Fellowship, 2019-2020
• Nominee (2017): The Darroch Award for Excellence in Sexual and Reproductive Health Research
• Mu Sigma Chapter Education Scholarship (2019)
• Youth Delegate (2017): Summer Youth Assembly at the United Nations, New York
• Youth Champion (2015): Youth Advocacy Institution of Safe Abortion and Rights, Asia Safe Abortion Partnership,
Colombo, Sri Lanka
• Award for Excellence (2011-2013): Aga Khan Youth and Sport Board for Pakistan
• Award for Academic Excellence (2003-2004): Aga Khan Education Service, Pakistan Education Board f
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Youth Champion
    Awarding Organization:
    Rise Up - Youth Champion Imitative
    Date Awarded:
    November 12, 2014
  • Award:
    Youth Delegate
    Awarding Organization:
    The International Conference on Family Planning
    Date Awarded:
    January 11, 2018
  • Award:
    Youth Delegate
    Awarding Organization:
    Women Deliver Conference
    Date Awarded:
    March 6, 2019
75 Public Votes Reached!
Neelam is passionate about advancing the rights of young girls, by improving access to SRHR information. She has Co-founded CREATE Training program, which has successfully trained over 200 SRHR trainers impacting around 10,000 girls, youth, women. – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Since I became a Youth Champion from the Packard Foundation, I have been advocating for girls and women's sexual & reproductive health and rights in Pakistan. I led a community-based project entitled CREATE with school teachers, community workers, and nurses. This project empowered more than 8,000 young people to highlight their own issue around gender norms, sexuality, SRH rights through advocacy sessions. These young people are leaders who are advocating for youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services from the health care providers and challenging the patriarchal notions exist in the health system. The youth has a right to access SRH services without being violated and discriminated on the basis of age, gender, and marital status.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

It was only when as a nurse working in the community, I observed discrimination against young girls, that I understood my accountability towards this cause. I grew up to realize that FP & SRHR are taboos, adolescents face shame, fear, and silence on sexuality, lack of right based education and information on SRHR in our society. I was one of them who had no CSE in school, shut to talk about my own sexuality, and faced judgmental behavior from health care provider which made me apprehensive.

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

I developed FP algorithms for one of the largest NGOs in Pakistan, which were implemented at a call center and helped thousands of young people living in remote areas to access FP services anonymously.

Working as a FP leader, I run a Facebook page, whereby, I upload all the evidence-based information for young people on all FP methods and provide services to them. Moreover, I recently being interviewed by Obama’s foundation to discuss the inspiring work I do to empower girls in Pakistan.

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? :

I hope to use the 120 under 40 platform to carry out a community engagement project with 100 young people in rural areas of Pakistan, particularly areas with very high teenage pregnancies to discuss with them about the importance of girl child education, benefits of using FP and dispelling the misconceptions. I would also use the existing technology-based tools on SRHR awareness in the local language that is easy to understand and use. I strongly believe the discussions will empower young girls.

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