News

WASHINGTON, DC—Universal Access Project Executive Director Seema Jalan, a leading advocate for global women’s reproductive rights, has joined the nonprofit funders’ network Rachel’s Network as a Leadership Liaison.

The Universal Access Project, a project of the United Nations Foundation, convenes a unique and innovative community of donors and NGOs to strengthen US support for access to family planning and reproductive health care globally. Seema leads the strategic and business planning processes for the initiative and oversees the management of the US policy angles.

“At a time when the Trump administration is cutting reproductive health programs for women worldwide, Seema is speaking out for vulnerable populations,” said Rachel’s Network President Fern Shepard. “The Universal Access Project demonstrates why continued investment is necessary for a healthy and thriving planet, through the stories of women whose lives and communities have been transformed by family planning.”

Seema came to the UN Foundation from Women Thrive Worldwide where she served as Global Development Policy Director and led the organization’s work on aid reform, ensuring US assistance reaches both women and men in developing countries, addressing violence against women internationally, and increasing access to women’s economic opportunity.

Together with its funding and NGO partners, the Universal Access Project has helped to protect robust US international assistance for international reproductive health and family planning. In 2017 alone, this foreign aid is estimated to provide 26 million women and couples with contraceptives, helping them avoid 8 million unintended pregnancies, 3 million unplanned births, 3.3 million induced abortions (many of which are unsafe), and 15,000 maternal deaths.

Under Seema’s leadership, the Universal Access Project has also worked to increase media coverage of girls’ and women’s health and rights globally. To date, the Universal Access Project has engaged more than 60 top-tier media — including the New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, NPR, and more — with storytelling opportunities in eight countries.

“Protecting the reproductive health and rights of women and protecting our planet go hand in hand,” said Seema. “Women are the primary resource managers for families across the world, and when they are healthy and empowered, they can play a more active role in their community’s sustainable development and environmental conservation. I’m thrilled to be joining such an innovative community igniting change with girls and women around the world and for our planet.”

Rachel’s Network Environmental Leadership Liaisons — women CEOs of influential national or international environmental nonprofits — provide high-level expertise and keep Rachel’s Network members connected to nonprofits that share our goals. This esteemed roster includes Jamie Rappaport Clark, President and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife; Margie Alt, Executive Director of Environment America; and Keya Chatterjee, Executive Director of the US Climate Action Network.


Rachel’s Network, a nonprofit organization named in Rachel Carson’s honor, promotes women as impassioned leaders and agents of change dedicated to the stewardship of the earth. The Network builds productive alliances among members and offers services that empower them to lead.

The Universal Access Project, a project of the United Nations Foundation, works to achieve universal access to reproductive health care – Millennium Development Goal 5 – which leads to healthier women, stronger families, and more stable, prosperous communities.

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