June Low 

2019 Winner

Position: Sex Educator

Organization: School of Public Health, Kyoto University

Current Location: Kyoto, Japan

Post-graduate Diploma in Law (Bar Vocational Course) from Bristol Institute of Legal Practice

“June is a sexual health educator who teaches young people in a Malaysia, where comprehensive sex education is lacking. She created “Popek Popek” which is a comprehensive sex ed webshow in the local language which is available for free.”

Lavitha Sivapatham, Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecologist at Hospital Ampang

Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

I began teaching sex ed in plantations all over Malaysia. Through this, I was able to gain unique insight on how to teach effectively within this environment. Applying my knowledge, I created Malaysia’s first web show on CSE. The response received has been very positive, and I’m happy to hear that many health professionals, schools, and even government organisations have used the videos as part of their work. Over the years, I have also consistently advocated for the implementation of CSE in Malaysia. In 2018, I received a scholarship from the Japanese Government and I’m currently at the School of Public Health in Kyoto University working on research to improve the quality of CSE within conservative environments.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Through teaching, it quickly became clear to me that the actual needs of the audience were not being met by existing sex education efforts. Over time, I also realised that very few people were working against the tide of bad sex ed, for a variety of reasons. I feel a great responsibility towards young people and I have seen the difference good sex ed can make to a person’s life. So I’ve made it my life’s mission to work hard towards improving the ways in which we can support young people.

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

I think that good sex ed is carried out in 3 steps: First, we must take time to understand different needs and norms. Then, we must find common ground. Finally, we must develop effective and innovative ways to communicate the message. And all of this must be done sincerely without compromising the key message that is being delivered. I apply the same methods in leadership and I’m not afraid to take the road less travelled. I believe the key to success lies in strong relationships with others.

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? 

My current research at Kyoto University addresses a notable gap in the literature: The views of parents on the implementation of sex ed in Malaysia. My thesis will be jointly supervised by the Australian Research Centre for Sex Health & Society. If I win, I will use the grant to fund my research in Malaysia next year. I believe the publicity from being a winner of 120 under 40 will also help facilitate data collection and draw attention to my findings once they have been published.

Photos of the nominee in the field/at work: