Mai Doan To Thuy – Women Deliver

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Mai Doan To Thuy

  • Age: 31
  •    |   She/her/hers


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To achieve the highest standard in sexual and reproductive health services, we not only need to strengthen the multi-collaboration between professions but also within professions such as public and private abortion provision.

- Mai Doan To Thuy


Thuy Mai is an SRHR activist and currently working as an Associate Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief. She is passionate about contributing to achieving truly accessible, safe, and legal health services for stigmatised illnesses, especially safe abortion services. For that reason, she co-founded a youth-led network – Vietnam Youth Action for Choice – that provides training courses on gender sensitisation, safe sex, and abortion for medical students and young leaders in Vietnam. In addition, she designed and launched a storytelling website, which is the only bilingual interactive website providing evidence-based information on contraceptives, safe abortion, and the rights to sexual and reproductive health, and offering a platform for abortion seekers to voice their experiences and challenges faced during abortion seeking journey for Vietnamese and foreigners living in Vietnam. Thuy Mai has won several young leader awards, including top 120 Under 40 The New Generation of Family Planning Leaders making a difference in reproductive health worldwide by Bill and Melinda Gates Institute.

What ignited your pursuit for gender equality?

Once, I helped a Filipino teenager with a 16-week pregnancy to access abortion in Vietnam because abortion is illegal in the Philippines. The four largest public hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (which can legally perform all types of abortion up to 22 weeks gestation) denied care to her. They said the second-trimester abortion was terrible and required parental consent, although she had her older sister as an accompanying guardian. I respect each individual's beliefs, but I disagree with a medical refusal with professional physicians' judgmental attitudes. After being refused services at these hospitals, I sought out other abortion providers and even a private clinic that illegally provides abortions exceeding the first trimester. Finally, she had a safe abortion with the public hospital director's help, which had previously refused to treat her. This experience made me realize despite a fairly unrestricted abortion policy in Vietnam, the stigma and legal barriers still exist for safe abortion seekers. I believe many people have faced the same obstacles and even more, such as high costs, confidentiality, or trans-inclusivity in abortion provisions. Since then, I have considered how I should work to advocate for truly legal, safe, nonjudgmental, and accessible healthcare services.

Please share your biggest wins as an advocate for gender equality.

Small people might not change the world, but small people can change small communities. Helping someone to be able to obtain a safe abortion service or providing information and helping someone to choose or come up with a mutual agreement with their partner on choosing a contraceptive method are the wins that I believe my gender equality advocate journey is making an actual positive impact on someone’s life.

Outside of your gender equality advocacy work, what do you enjoy doing?