Today is International Women's Day and it is the perfect time for us to introduce Evofem's new CEO, Saundra Pelletier. Saundra is the founding CEO of WomanCare Global (WCG), an organization that provides affordable access to high-quality reproductive health products for women and girls in more than 100 countries. We've recently partnered with WCG to expand the global distribution of Softcup and reach women in the developing world who do not always have access to sanitary protection. Saundra was just featured in Vogue but we wanted to get to know her better. We found her answers inspiring and hope you will too.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in Caribou, Maine which is the northern most city in the United States and is the farthest point you can fly from San Diego, which is where I live now. In Caribou, girls had two choices when they were growing up – who they would marry and the number of children they would have. My mom was one of 12 children and enjoyed modern conveniences like outdoor plumbing. While I was growing up, she always encouraged me to advocate for myself AND for those who felt invisible – which sadly, was many of the other women and girls in Caribou.
What is the inspiration behind WomanCare Global?
I strongly believe that no matter where a woman a lives, no matter what her socioeconomic status is, she should be able to choose when, if and how often she has children. When women have access to family planning their communities benefit because women can provide a better life to the children they already have. What is extraordinary is that I have the privilege to work with a dedicated team of people who share the same belief system and want to do something about it. While serving women is the passion that drives what we do, it’s our business intelligence that makes our work possible. We strategically redirect revenue from developed countries to underserved markets. In this way, we eliminate economic and geographic barriers and increase our impact. We want to make sure that women in less developed countries have the same options as women in America.
I'm sure you have met some amazing women in your work and travels. What is a story that has touched you the most?
Every woman and her story touches me, whether I hear it firsthand or not. Many who do this type of work have met women who have had to walk for two days just to reach a health clinic. She has a baby on her back, a baby in her belly and two small children walking behind her. These women desperately want a life for their children that is better than their own. They see contraception as the answer and they will endure incredible hardship in order to access family planning products that enable them to choose when and how many children they will have. These women are truly amazing.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone wanting to get involved in helping other women, whether locally or globally?
Philanthropy MATTERS! Giving back doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. Identify an organization with a mission that speaks to you and donate. Even small financial investments can make all the difference. For example, with $100 we can provide 10 women with contraception for 1 year. When women are united and support each other completely, mountains can move, seas can part and sustainable change can really happen. Don’t wait another day. Give and Be Grateful: Be Grateful and Give.