Halfdan Mahler

Halfdan Mahler, the former Director General of IPPF from 1988 to 1995, died on December 14, 2016 in Geneva. Dr. Mahler was formerly the Director of the World Health Organization and served there during the onset of the AIDS crisis from 1973-1988. I met Dr. Mahler at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994. He was an imposing presence, at ease in the corridors of power and comfortable within the UN system of reaching consensus, even as he led IPPF in pushing for the recognition of the empowerment and rights of women in the final document. In addition to AIDS, Dr. Mahler focused on unsafe abortion as a scourge that must be eliminated. His leadership brought the IPPF Member Associations into uncharted (for some) territories of AIDS, abortion and the rights of women and he will be remembered for his firm vision and diplomacy that made it happen.


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