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Melissa Simplicio

2023 Fellow

Voices That Inspire

Melissa S.

Melissa Simplicio, an Afro-Brazilian adolescent, defied the odds as a potential victim of teenage pregnancy and femicide in her favela-born environment. In 2019, she emerged as an advocate for girls’ rights and cross-cultural understanding, joining the United Nations Foundation and Women Deliver as a Teen Advisor and Young Leader. Since then, she has led international government meetings, interned at Argentina’s City Governments, and collaborated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office and Commission on the Status of Women, working to eradicate gender-based violence and advance sexual and reproductive health and rights.  

Melissa’s impactful initiatives include founding Cycle of Love during the pandemic, an initiative that has raised over U$10,000 in funding, transforming the lives of over 400,000 low-income individuals, and that has also amplified the voices of period poverty victims through a fully funded documentary. Melissa’s advocacy extends to legislative accomplishments, as she has authored menstrual-equity bills for Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, ensuring pads access and menstrual education through Brazil’s healthcare system. Her efforts have also assisted City Governments and NGOs implement menstrual equity and education programs that have impacted over 400,000 people. Beyond her remarkable social impact work, Melissa finds joy in literature, traveling, and dancing.