Priya Shankar

75 Public Votes Reached!
Priya Shankar - 2017 Nominee
Position: MD/MPH, Physician Activist, Founder of Girls Health Champions
Organization: Girls Health Champions
Current Location: United States, North America
M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
M.P.H. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
B.A. University of Pennsylvania
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Harvard Presidents Challenge runner-up winner 2016
    Awarding Organization:
    Harvard University
    Date Awarded:
    April 25, 2016
  • Award:
    Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship
    Awarding Organization:
    United States India Educational Foundation
    Date Awarded:
    June 1, 2009
  • Award:
    Girls Not Brides Maternal Health Changemaker
    Awarding Organization:
    Girls Not Brides
    Date Awarded:
    November 16, 2016
Priya Shankar, MD/MPH, is a physician leader and activist. She is a pediatric resident at UCSF's Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved Residency and founder of Girls Health Champions, a non-profit that trains girls as SRH peer educators in India. – Ricky Sharma, Co-Founder of Girls Health Champions, Master in Public Policy Candidate at Harvard Kennedy School at Girls Health Champions
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I am a co-founder of Girls Health Champions, a non profit that trains adolescent girls as peer health educators in India.  As a medical student, I worked to design our curriculums which focus on topics including reproductive anatomy, reproductive rights, averting teen pregnancy, and contraception utilization. Since our initial  expansion in May 2016, we have reached over 1000 girls. Our organization gives girls a voice by training them as health educators, enables them to start dialogues around taboo issues, and change social norms. I will also be pediatric resident with an emphasis on adolescent medicine. I plan to provide family planning support to young women on a daily basis as a pediatrician and to continue to expand GHC globally through my residency training at UCSF's PLUS program.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

My passion for family planning began during a Fulbright Scholarship to India where I worked with women who were forced into marriage during their adolescent years and later had several pregnancies. Many women lacked adequate knowledge with regards to family planning or did not have a voice in their own sexual health. I created GHC to give young women the correct information and to allow them to share it with one another. And every time I see our Champions in action, my passion grows stronger. 

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

For the past several years I have advocated on behalf of girls, begun to acquire skills to provide clinical care to young women, and co-founded GHC. I am also a frequent contributor to online platforms such as the Lancet Global Health blog through which I have written about issues related to maternal health. With my co-founder, I have developed a sustainable business model and have already implemented GHC in two Indian states where our Champions are changing dialogue regarding family planning.

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? :

In 2017, we will expand GHC to 20 more schools and intend to reach 3,000 girls. I am also currently working on analyzing our prior data and designing our research methodology to assess the impact of the GHC model in terms of knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral changes related to contraception utilization and birth spacing. The funding will enable expansion, allow us to better evaluate outcomes, improve our curriculum, and provide increased reproductive healthcare and counsel to our Champions.

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