Lily Bolourian

Lily Bolourian
Position: Persian Activist and Organizer
Organization: Earth Day Network
Lily has organized without any resources since we were in high school. She is fearless and effortlessly uses social media to leverage on-the-ground activism, even convincing the Women's March to drop an anti-abortion group on Twitter within 30 mins. – Nominator
I heard about Lily Bolourian before I ever met her -- at the time, she was organizing a major pro-choice protest. Several years later, I had the privilege to work with her. She's a brilliant intersectional organizer and force of nature. – Katherine O'Connell, People For the American Way
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

As an unaffiliated reproductive justice activist and organizer for over ten years, I have proudly helped 15 women access abortions by providing financial and emotional support, driving them to the clinic, waiting for them during their procedure, and safely driving them home. I have lead several on-the-ground mobilizations in service of reproductive access including co-organizing Summer of Trust, a week of solidarity with an abortion provider in my community, that caught headlines and swamped the opposition in numbers, and organizing the DC Walk for Choice against attempts to defund Planned Parenthood with several hundred attendees using digital media. I've proudly fought repro injustice via digital advocacy, direct access, direct action, on-ground mobilization, and clinic escorting.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

As the daughter of asylum-seekers from Iran, I learned at a very young age that for women and people who can reproduce to live full lives, they must first ownership over their own lives. The stories of illegal abortions of generations of women in my family emboldened me to ensure that access to all facets of family planning, including abortion, expands to those who seek it.

Give one or two examples of how you display leadership in your family planning work.:

By keeping a close eye on the opposition, I can identify their plans of action, hear their messaging, and then disrupt it. By taking this initiative to monitor the opposition, I am able to alert other activists via digital and traditional media and take the lead in mobilizing. I lead a direct action in 2016 in front of an anti-choice gala calling for accountability for people incarcerated for getting abortions.

If you are named a winner of 120 under 40, how will you use this new platform and the $1000 grant to advance your work? :

If I am selected as a winner, I will bring the honor back into my community. As it stands, there is very little advocacy in the U.S. for the reproductive justice of people of Middle Eastern and North African descent. I would use the award money to begin an initiative naming and addressing the specific concerns of MENA people in family planning, providing education on our traditions of family planning, and tackling the unique reproductive concerns we face as a deeply multi-faceted community.

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