The outcome was an incredible account of advocacy.
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Champion of Choice: The Life and Legacy of Women's Advocate Nafis Sadik
Many of them used to die of hemorrhage. And you started to see the connections between poverty, and lack of autonomy.
You could see that many of these deaths could have been prevented. When they get pregnant, some of them will die. Both of these issues served to guide her passion for advocacy throughout her career.
BOOKS: The Legacy of Nafis Sadik, Champion of Choice | Inter Press Service
At first, she worked with individual patients, hoping to make changes one life at a time. Soon the lure of working with larger systems and having a broader influence took priority.
Imagine: in a Muslim country, family planning is a totally foreign concept and women are considered second class citizens; how does one make progress? As Dr. Sadik requested assistance and evaluation of her own programs, others came to her for the expertise she acquired.
Sadik became a leading international authority on family planning. It is hard to imagine that in the late sixties and early seventies, the world was just waking up to the realities of overpopulation. Not even the World Health Organization included family planning in its own health agenda. Ultimately, she joined the United Nations staff, where she remained for the rest of her career.
Sadik developed an aggressive and effective management style. She chose to decentralize authority and rotate office staff to field positions. Community building was her signature attribute, as evidenced by the successful international conferences in Dhaka, Mexico, China, Cairo, and elsewhere.
How can we measure the work of over 50 years? Clearly her efforts were fraught with obstacles and setbacks.
But confrontations with the Vatican and conservative political regimes did not stop her. If unsuccessful in a particular endeavor, she would just try again—and again. But the world was changing, and Dr.
Sadik understood the interconnectedness of multiple issues: education, family planning, and economic development. During her year tenure with UNFPA, the organization established field offices with programs in countries. Use of contraception according to USAID measurement grew tenfold; average family size diminished from six to three children.