Activist, Advocate and Ally: Q&A with Christina Wegs
On May 16, 2022, PAI welcomed Christina Wegs as the new vice president of global programs and advocacy. A passionate social justice advocate, she brings 20 years of experience in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), public health and civil society strengthening to her new role. We spoke with Christina to get to know her better and learn what she hopes to accomplish at PAI.
When did you know you wanted to work in SRHR and public health?
After I graduated from college, I joined the Peace Corps and served in Botswana. During my time there, I worked with a local nonprofit to develop a school-based HIV prevention curriculum. It was an incredible, activist-driven group that helped me appreciate the complex social norms and unequal power dynamics that put young people at higher risk for HIV. It got me thinking more deeply about the structural and social drivers of health and health equity, and I knew this was an area I wanted to work in.
What has been your most rewarding experience as an SRHR advocate?
There are too many to count! But a few examples come to mind, including supporting women’s rights groups in Uganda that are advocating for equitable access to SRHR for refugees; youth-led networks in Malawi and Côte d’Ivoire working collectively to demand responsive and inclusive health services; and human rights lawyers, health care workers, religious leaders and activists in Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo joining forces to prevent unsafe abortion.
What’s been most meaningful to me is when my work ― and my own activism ― has allowed me to support, stand alongside and learn from advocates who are fighting for their own health and rights, and for the rights and health of their communities.
What do you see as the most urgent needs facing our sector?
We’re seeing frightening rollbacks of SRHR and LGBTQI+ rights across the globe. Policy and legislative changes are critical, but we also need to find ways to be strong allies with social movements ― both in the United States and abroad ― and stand in solidarity to push back against these attacks.
What excites you about joining PAI?
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to join the PAI team! I love that the organization is constantly challenging itself to be a really good partner to activists and advocates who are pushing for change in their own countries and communities. And because U.S. policies and programs have such an outsized impact on the global landscape, PAI’s advocacy with the U.S. government is critical to protecting and expanding SRHR around the world.
What inspires you to keep going?
I participated in the Bans Off Our Bodies march in New York on May 14 and was inspired by how advocates for reproductive rights in the United States are looking to and benefitting from the knowledge and experience of the activists leading Green Wave — the Latin American women’s movement behind the liberalization of abortion laws in Argentina, Mexico and, most recently, Colombia. Advocates in the United States have so much to learn from them and it’s important that we work collectively on these issues as part of a global movement.