21-yr-old Naga girl among winners of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation initiative
A 21-year-old woman from Dimapur in Nagaland is among the 40 winners selected this year for ‘120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders’—an initiative by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Sekulu Nyekha, is a volunteer with the International Youth Alliance on Family Planning (IYAFP), an alliance of young individuals and organizations working for sexual and reproductive health issues.
Two other Indians, Suchi Bansal, a senior researcher at the University of Chicago and Rajesh Kumar Rai, a senior research scientist with the West Bengal health and family welfare department have also been selected this year as winners.
“Sex and reproductive health is an important issue. We come from a community where we never talk about sex, contraception etc. I want to work on the subject as I have witnessed my friends getting pregnant at a very young age or go through abortions because they didn’t have enough knowledge,” said Sekulu.
After her schooling in Kohima, Sekulu did her graduation in performing arts and visual communication with psychology from Jyoti Niwas College Autonomous, Bangalore. She wants to continue working in the field of family planning.
“My current project is a story telling platform for people with disabilities. The grant that I will win will be used to launch the platform by collecting stories on sexual health issues faced by people with disabilities,” she said.
Launched in 2015, 120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders selects 40 winners under 40 years of age from across the world who have made significant contribution to family planning in categories like advocacy, research, policy, media etc.
Beginning in 2016 with 40, a total of 120 winners are selected and the winners for 2019 will be the last ones who will get USD 1,000 each from the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health to continue their work in family planning or begin new projects.
“These young leaders are creating lasting positive change worldwide, and their impact will only multiply as they forge new relationships and collaborations with their fellow 120 Under 40 winners,” said Jose ‘Oying’ Rimon II, director of the Gates Institute in a statement.