Sima Sharma Tiwari is a Fall 2023 recipient of the Srinivasan Family Awards for Projects in Emerging Markets run by the Center for Emerging Markets at Northeastern University.

Sima Sharma Tiwari, a Doctor of Nursing Practice-Anesthesia student at Northeastern University, has dedicated herself to advancing reproductive health education and services in Nepal. With a background in nursing and extensive experience in critical care settings both in Nepal and the USA, Sima's passion for improving healthcare access and education has inspired her to advocate for healthcare education for over a decade.

Recognizing the critical lack of comprehensive sexual health education and services in Nepal, Sima first set out to address the root causes of issues such as unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV/AIDS, intimate partner violence, and psychiatric problems among adolescents back in 2009. Before coming to Northeastern, she had already carried out several projects evaluating adolescents' attitudes and knowledge on comprehensive sex education and conducting educational sessions in schools.

In Spring and Fall 2023, Sima received funding through the Srinivasan Family Awards at the Center for Emerging Markets to scale up a new advocacy initiative aiming to implement inclusive, transformative, culturally relevant, and scientifically comprehensive sex education targeting adolescents in Kathmandu, Nepal. Nepal's school curriculum currently incorporates Sexual and Reproductive Health education as an optional course, often leading to low levels of healthcare literacy among adolescents and young adults.

Over the past year, Sima has partnered with several high schools in Kathmandu to distribute an advocacy toolkit developed based on findings from one of her previous social projects and held trainings with students enrolled in the Maharajgunj Nursing College to teach them how to advocate for comprehensive sex education in their communities. She also was invited to present on various national and international platforms, including the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH) 2024 Conference in Los Angeles, California.

By making this toolkit available, Sima hopes that others can become knowledgeable about the advocacy for sex education, fight to put appropriate plans into practice and start or protect successful sex education programs that uphold and support adolescents' rights to truthful information. Moreover, she hopes that it can direct people to advocate on a local, national, regional, and international level and spearhead group initiatives to question policies, change perceptions, and raise the bar for excellent sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents.

Looking ahead, Sima aims to broaden her project's reach to better serve adolescents across Nepal. She plans to distribute instructional materials, infographics, and toolkits while conducting dissemination seminars in schools, healthcare centers, hospitals, and among policymakers. Additionally, she intends to examine the local ownership and cultural relevance of existing reproductive health curricula and involve stakeholders, particularly parents and adolescents, in curriculum development and promotion.

Sima's dedication to advancing reproductive health education and services in Nepal exemplifies her commitment to improving the well-being of adolescents in her home country. Through her tireless advocacy efforts and collaborative initiatives, she is laying the groundwork for a future where all adolescents have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, empowering them to lead healthier and more informed lives.