Lani Fried, a San Francisco native, was living in New York City last year and preparing to travel across Asia when she realized she had no idea how to access birth control in the many countries that she was going to visit. She recalled living in Turkey, where she was never able to get a proper STI test and didn’t want to go abroad worrying her gynecological needs-what if she needed a pap smear or got pregnant? That is when Fried had the genius idea to create Gynopedia– a collective grassroots platform that provides a reliable source of information for women to be empowered and make informed decisions about their reproductive and sexual health around the world.
Gynopedia is an online open-source wiki that helps women find reproductive and sexual health services anywhere in the world. The site lets you search for everything from where to the get the morning after pill, a STI test, pads or tampons (yes they are sold but in specific stores), replacing a prescription, safe abortions to finding and LGBTQ friendly ob/gyn. Fried says, “This lack of information has been a constant theme in my life and I assumed that many other women felt the same way. Time and time again, I have needed advice from local people and lacked an online resource. This made me enraged yet wildly inspired and so Gynopedia was born.”
In addition, the site provides country specific cultural information for female travelers like laws and social stigmas around women’s sexual health as well as translations for certain words and phrases they should know when trying to access treatment or recommendations and costs. “Women may not know which clinics or gynecologists they can trust and where they can feel safe and respected as well as which health options are accessible and affordable. As women, we are often aware of how religion, politics, culture and history can play a role in health care in our home countries. However, we may not be aware of how these factors work in other countries,” Fried says.
An avid world traveler, Fried also moved around a lot in the U.S. and she always spent endless hours, time and energy researching the basic and essential information. Being woman in living in America under Trump’s Administration was also an incentive for Fried. By reinstating the 1984 Mexico City policy, the defunded the International NGOs if they offered, provided, or advised on abortion as part of their services. They also planned to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict other women’s rights. In an interview with the Telegraph, Fried said ‘In this climate, it is crucial that people raise their voices and get involved. There are so many ways to do this, and one of the ways is to contribute information to Gynopedia. When people contribute to Gynopedia, they let people know about the laws and their reproductive rights. They let people know what options are available to them, how they can pay for these resources and who can help them. When women share wisdom and resources, we empower one another to fight for accessibility, affordability and choice.’
Another incentive for Lani was the renewed concern she and many women in her home country have over their reproductive rights since Donald Trump became President of the United States. “The Trump administration is attacking women’s reproductive rights, and it’s attempting to reverse years of hard-fought battles and social progress,” Lani says. “In this climate, it is crucial that people raise their voices and get involved. There are so many ways to do this, and one of the ways is to contribute information to Gynopedia. When people contribute to Gynopedia, they let people know about the laws and their reproductive rights. They let people know what options are available to them, how they can pay for these resources and who can help them. When women share wisdom and resources, we empower one another to fight for accessibility, affordability and choice.”
The website looks a lot like Wikipedia and information that covers over 80 cities throughout North America, Africa, Asia and South America in English only. The site is self-funded and maintained by Fried and she produced most of the content herself. When she tapped out all of her personal knowledge, experience and resources, she reached out to trusted regional and local women’s organizations, NGOs and online community groups, who are dedicated to promoting and preserving women’s sexual reproductive rights and ending sexual violence to help build out the site’s content.
Like Wikipedia, anyone can upload content and Fried is hoping the site encourages more females to contribute more information and cities to the site. To help recruit more contributors, she’s produced a video and a, as well as a Gynopedia guidelines page to help them get started. “The plan is to just keep extending its reach,” she says. “I want to have a Gynopedia page for as many cities as possible.
As the site grows, Fried has a few challenges to think about and deal with. Keeping the content current and ensuring the quality, accuracy and reliability of the information and building the site into a fully supported platform. Her other challenge is the potential pushback from organizations or governments that don’t agree with the site’s mission, so she’s started to talk to people on to prepare and handle the situation.
“It’s crazy to me how you can find a gazillion sites on the top ten things to do or see when you visit a new place, but nothing about critical aspects of every woman’s life,” she says. “I want Gynopedia to change that.” “I’m no health expert or web entrepreneur. And I probably don’t even know what I am doing here”. “But I’m someone who has been uninsured, in need of health care and lost in cities many times — and that’s just me. There are millions of women who have it much worse — cut off from information and progressive health care, isolated from so many resources. “I got fed up with the state of things, so now I feel crazy passionate about this new ‘lil website.”
Fried also believes that the power of information should transcend gender so she also wants the site to help educate men who are searching for advice and information. Safe travels!