Council Commentary

A Statement on the Passing of Feminist Leader Adrienne Germain

The Population Council mourns the passing of Adrienne Germain, a feminist leader who dedicated her life to ensuring sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice for women and girls. Early in her career, Germain was a Council researcher who went on to work at the Ford Foundation and most notably to co-found the International Women's Health Coalition. 

She played a pivotal role as a member of the US government delegation to the landmark International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994, and the Fourth World Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995, shaping both US policy and the final intergovernmental agreements that continue to guide UN, government, and donor policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

"We are saddened by the loss of Adrienne Germain, a bold champion for women's agency, autonomy, and self-determination. Her passion and commitment brought together savvy political lobbying and evidence-based research to help shape and transform thinking and global policy on women's health and human rights," said Population Council President Julia Bunting.

In addition to work in other countries, Germain spent time in Bangladesh promoting woman-centered reproductive health services and quality of care. She co-authored an issue of Quality/Calidad/Qualité, a Population Council series, highlighting the responsive mode of family planning delivery provided by the Bangladesh Women's Health Coalition.

Germain also advocated for a broader scope in defining "unmet need." In a commentary published in Studies in Family Planning, Germain writes, "The challenge for the remainder of the 1990s is not only to meet the rising demand for contraception in general, but also to serve better the needs of all women and men who are struggling to regulate their fertility safely, effectively, and with human dignity."