Ms. Burcu Bozkurt, Gillings School of Global Public Health alumna, is one of 40 people under 40 recognized as a strong advocate for sexual and reproductive health rights.
[Photo: Ms. Burcu Bozkurt]
The recognition, which comes with a $1,000 award to continue her work in family planning, was announced on September 13 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.
This year’s 40 winners are part of the Gates Institute’s three-year “120 Under 40: The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders” initiative. Another 40 winners will be selected in 2017, and a third group of 40 will be selected in 2019. In 2020, the Gates Institute will celebrate 120 young people working to improve population and reproductive health.
Ms. Bozkurt, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in health policy and management at the Gillings School in 2012, is co-founder and director of operations at International Youth Alliance for Family Planning, an organization that aims to provide young people ages 15 to 30 an accessible platform to advocate for sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Her fieldwork has included providing technical support to establish a measurement and evaluation system for community health workers in Bangladesh and working with women’s cooperatives in Turkey. As an advocate for women’s rights, she has worked on sustainable development issues and conducted health systems research in Vietnam, Costa Rica, Mexico and other countries.
When asked what sparked her passion for working in family planning, she said the women’s rights field was the lens through which she looked at the issues that disenfranchise women around the world.
“My passion is also rooted in my past,” she said. “My grandmother was a child bride, picked out of her village in Turkey. And I’ve seen many women with little or no access to knowledge about or access to sexual and reproductive health services. As a doula, a public health professional and as a woman, I know that this is my life’s work and that I must change the status quo.”