Fred Sai 1924-2019

Fred Sai, though diminutive in size, was a giant at International Planned Parenthood Federation and globally for women’s rights and health.

We met far too infrequently, most memorably at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, where Fred was the chair, and at an IPPF meeting in New Delhi in 2002 where Fred gave a rousing speech to the delegates. He had experience chairing various international conferences, experience which stood him in good stead in the contentious plenary meetings in Cairo, where there was sharp dissent to making women and women’s rights the center of family planning programs and development. After days of a small but contentious band of opponents having their say, Fred Sai declared, “Consensus has been reached” and banged his gavel, signaling the adoption of the Program of Action. It was a historic moment for women’s rights.

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I had the honor to nominate him for Lasker Award but unfortunately the Lasker Committee did not see the giant that the rest of the world saw.

I was honored when Fred presented to me the IPPF Individual Volunteer Award in 2011. I will never forget his eloquence, dedication and passion for our great cause.

 

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Memorial Day, North Haven, Maine – 2017

It is 46 degrees, with a brisk east wind and misty as a dozen veterans gather inside American Legion Post 33 on North Haven, Maine, an island 12 miles offshore and proud of its history of sending young men and women to fight for their country. It is a curious thing – this island often seems independent of the continental United States, yet in every war, starting with the Revolutionary, the islanders responded to the call for service to defend freedom, democracy and our way of life.

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