Françoise Girard is the president of the International Women’s Health Coalition. A lawyer by training, she is a longtime advocate and expert on women’s health, human rights, sexuality, and HIV and AIDS. Girard is regularly consulted by governments and UN agencies and has been instrumental to ensuring that global frameworks include and further women’s rights.
Girard played a key role in advocacy on sexual and reproductive health and women’s rights at UN conferences such as ICPD+5, Beijing+5, General Assembly Special Sessions on HIV/AIDS and on Children, ICPD+10, the 2005 World Summit (Millennium Development Goals), and the process to negotiate the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
From 1999 to 2003, she was Senior Program Officer for International Policy at IWHC, and thereafter a consultant for IWHC, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and DAWN, a network of women’s rights activists from the global South. Prior to returning to IWHC in 2012, she was Director of the Public Health Program at Open Society Foundations, where she was also Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Haiti in the 1990s.
Girard serves on the Board of the Women’s Funding Network, and on the Advisory Committee of the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. She was the Chair of the Leadership Programme Committee of the 2010 International AIDS Conference, a 20,000+ participant biannual scientific conference.
Her articles have been published widely in peer-reviewed journals such as Science, Health and Human Rights, Global Health Policy, Journal of Adolescent Health, International Family Planning Perspectives and Reproductive Health Matters. Other publications include “Negotiating Sexual Rights and Sexual Orientation at the United Nations,” in SexPolitics: Report from the Front Lines, 2007; and “Advocacy for Sexuality and Women’s Rights: Continuities, Discontinuities and Strategies since ICPD” in Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward, 2009. She has been quoted by BBC Radio, NPR, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, Washington Post, The Guardian, Boston Globe, Associated Press, CBC/Radio-Canada, The New Yorker and The Nation, among others. Recent speaking engagements include C2 Montréal 2018, and 2018 Aspen Ideas: Spotlight Health.
Girard holds an M.A. in Political Science (Soviet Politics) from McGill University and an LL.B. from the Université de Montréal. She was a law clerk to Justice Charles Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada. She speaks French, Spanish, and Russian.