LMG Mentoring Network: December Mentor of the Month

Sarah McKee

Project Associate

December Mentor of the Month.

Full interview and text:

Why did you want to be a mentor?

"I wanted to be a mentor, because I have had an experience of more than 10 years in family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH)—more in public health and medicine—and wanted to support younger women starting out in the field of FP/RH. I know that having a mentor can make a really big difference in quickly learning the ropes. I was lucky to be mentored well by my supervisor when I started working on FP/RH and I wanted to share my knowledge and experience in FP/RH programming to try to help young African women advance their careers in the field."

What has been your greatest professional accomplishment?

"One of my greatest professional accomplishments has been technically supporting the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in the development of different national documents including the National RH Strategy (2006) and its revision that is currently going on, the National Adolescent and Youth RH Strategy (2007), and the National FP Service Guideline. I am also proud that I am part of the FP/RH community at a time of great change in FP and RH in Ethiopia. FP/RH service availability and acceptance; as well as the policy environment have rapidly (positively) changed in the last 15 years and I have been working at the core of these changes for the last 11 years."

What sacrifices did you have to make in your journey to success?

"Having to deal with frequent field visits and travels even when my children were very small has been one of the challenges of working in the field of public health. However, I have been very lucky and have the support of my husband and also my mother in helping look after my children during the times I’ve been away. Being in a leadership position in my current organization has also sometimes caused me to work on free time at home taking time away from my family."

What is your advice to young women entering the workforce in Africa?

"It is very important to know what you want in life; that is the first step in setting your goals. I advise young women to be very clear on their goal, where they want to see themselves in the short term and long term and pursue that goal. However, I also want to emphasize that, whatever your achievements, YOU and YOUR family should come first. And my last advise, don’t ever forget to have FUN!"