“Here, I am able to help my fellow women”

Meenakshi Sazena, Program Coordinator in India 

In Rajasthan, people don’t talk about sex or contraception. In fact, some people believe that even talking about sexual health is a sin. But Meenakshi Sazena, a program coordinator for MSI in India, is breaking down barriers.  

“After I learned about reproductive rights, I knew that I wanted to tell other women about their rights. In Rajasthan, people don’t talk about women’s reproductive rights, sex and family planning; it’s taboo. It’s all hidden within the family,” Meenakshi explains.  

Meenakshi, Program Coordinator, poses for a photo at the MSI clinic in Jaipur, India.

Abortion is especially taboo: “Abortion is absolutely never talked about in public. It’s kept a secret from family members. But I want to be transparent and open about these issues so that we can educate more and more women.” 

Meenakshi believes that every woman should have the right to decide if and when she wants to have a child, because the burden for raising them usually falls to women. “We should have the freedom to live our lives as well,” she says. 

To spread the word about reproductive rights, Meenakshi goes on outreach trips to local villages. There, she teaches community health workers – called ASHA didis – about contraception and abortion. These health workers then go door-to-door in their villages, talking to women about their options. Meenakshi also organizes block meetings for community members, educating them about the services MSI offers. 

Most of the clients Meenakshi sees each day are very poor, living on $1.25 a day or less. They usually have very little information about contraception. Meenakshi makes sure that they know about all their options and can choose the best method for their needs. 

Jaipur City, where Meenakshi’s center is located.

One client in particular stands out in Meenakshi’s memory: “When I was on outreach, providing services outside the clinic, I met a woman who confided in me about a friend who was in trouble. This friend of hers was pregnant outside of wedlock. In India, having a child out of wedlock is taboo and shameful to the community. It turned out that she was not talking about her friend but herself – she was terrified.” 

The young woman was about 10 weeks pregnant. She was living in fear of what would happen if her family found out. Her boyfriend had stopped speaking to her, and she couldn’t afford the cost of abortion at a private clinic. She was afraid that she’d be forced to drop out of school if she remained pregnant. She was so distressed that Meenakshi feared she would commit suicide. 

“I was able to counsel her about our services. I told her that at MSI we won’t judge her.” The young woman was relieved to be able to end her pregnancy. “She was able to get an abortion safely. She was very thankful. She hugged me and told me, ‘You have given me the gift of being able to live freely in my community.’” 

Meenakshi teaches community health workers to share information about reproductive healthcare.

Compassionate healthcare providers like Meenakshi make choice possible for women in India. With support from generous donors, Meenakshi and her colleagues can continue tearing down taboos, educating women and ensuring that everyone can access the reproductive healthcare they need.  


Real people, real stories, real solutions.

21 million futures transformed in 2022
Bodily autonomy

21 million futures transformed in 2022

In 2022, MSI saw unprecedented demand for sexual and reproductive health ... Read More

Video: How contraception empowered MSI Ghana client Abida to own a business

Video: How contraception empowered MSI Ghana client Abida to own a business

“Without contraception, I don’t think I would have been here owning ... Read More

MSI Sierra Leone: Engaging with MPs to pass the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Bill

MSI Sierra Leone: Engaging with MPs to pass the Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Bill

​MSI Sierra Leone has been a longstanding advocate for the Safe Motherhood ... Read More

View All