Women Who Inspire Change: Doortje Braeken
Kat Watson, Guest Contributor
I think I peaked pretty early in my career as far as bosses go. I am convinced that Doortje Braeken, the Senior Advisor on Adolescents at IPPF’s Central Office in London, is one of the most dedicated, passionate, and committed women working in the sexual and reproductive health and rights sector today. She has that 'Dutch' touch, a progressive and open-minded commitment to sexual rights that comes from growing up in the small European nation known to Americans as Holland.
Within IPPF, Doortje has worked tirelessly towards one end: ensuring that young people all over the world know their rights and are able to turn their decisions into reality. She pioneered youth participation within IPPF when most people didn’t understand the point of having youth leaders. Now, no decision is legitimated without young people's input. Doortje led a group of young advocates to write the first youth manifesto on sexual and reproductive rights within IPPF, and she paved the way for the organization to address the rights of LGBT youth long before our Sexual Rights declaration. Doortje has always given a voice to those who are being silenced, and constantly seeks to address the issues that have been cast aside: the most stigmatized, least 'sexy’, underfunded, and challenging issues.
After so many years in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights, I feel Doortje has just about done it all. Who knows how many passports she’s gone through? And we wouldn’t begin to be able to begin to count the number of condoms she’s distributed throughout the world! Still, she is powering on.