Nafis Sadik, Avabai Wadia and Mechai Viravaidya, great leaders all, have been in the news lately.
Nafis died in August at age 92. I met her during the preparations for the Cairo Conference in 1994. At PPNYC, our international division, The Margaret Sanger Center, worked in many countries in the Global South on family planning and sex ed programs. I attended the Cairo Conference and, thanks for Nafis, was on the agenda to speak on the final day. I had to depart Cairo before then, and our wonderful board member, Hector Prud’homme, delivered my remarks. The conference, thanks to the diligent work of Nafis, Fred Sai and many women’s advocates from around the world, was a great success, putting women at the center of aid programs for family planning.
Avabai Wadia was the subject of a laudatory article in The Better India. A lawyer by training, she helped organize the Bombay Conference in 1952, which resulted in the founding of IPPF. In 2002 for its 50th anniversary, I went to India with IPPF to celebrate. In 2008, Avabai invited me to address the Family Planning Association of India in Mumbai. Then over 90, she was as sharp and opinionated as ever, but always loyal to the principles of the IPPF and my grandmother’s vision.
Mechai Viravaidya was the subject of a feature in The New York Times. His work in Thailand has brought modern family planning and AIDS prevention to millions. Known as Captain Condom, he founded the restaurant Cabbages and Condoms in Bangkok where I was welcomed in 2007. At 82, he carries on the work of Population and Community Development Association with he founded 50 years ago.
Our movement has been fortunate to have such dedicated and untiring leaders around the world.