March 6, 2020
Dr. Rupinder Toor, MD ’96, says her most profound lessons come from her patients.
One in particular brought about a significant change. She remembers the 14-year-old girl in foster care who visited the clinic over a decade ago. “She was at risk of an unplanned pregnancy and she changed the way I practice and how I think about birth control,” says Rupinder.
The encounter led Rupinder to see birth control as a tool to spark an empowerment mindset in women, especially vulnerable girls.
“For many of these girls and women, their life is happening to them. Rather than feeling confident that they can live as they choose,” she says.
“My goal is to introduce the choices they have — especially when it comes to fundamental things like their body and reproductive health. To ignite a new empowerment mindset that helps them experience life differently.”
Rupinder asks two powerful questions to help girls and women identify their reproductive life goals. ‘When do you want to be pregnant?’ and ‘how important is it for you not to be pregnant until you’re ready?’
She says some of the most vulnerable may not realize it’s their choice to make. And the impact it has on other aspects of their lives. “Only when women can successfully control their reproduction, can they contemplate other life goals like education and career.”
“Empowering girls and women is important, because women tend to look after everyone else. Empowering women empowers the next generation. It leads to strong families and communities, and can help break the cycle of poverty,” says Rupinder.
She has been a doctor for over two decades and realized as far back as medical school that due to gender, language and cultural barriers, many immigrant women didn’t have a comfortable place to seek reproductive health care. Rupinder is the medical director and founder of The IUD (intrauterine device) & Women’s Clinic, a service that began in 2007. The clinic hosts a team of female physicians with language skills in English, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, French, among others, and a special interest in serving vulnerable women from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Her team is launching a new not-for-profit in 2020. Project EmpowHER aims to empower women, especially vulnerable girls, by improving awareness and access to long-acting birth control. She will also be featured as a speaker at ENGAGE: Deeply, the 10th anniversary TEDx Calgary event on March 28, 2020.
Dr. Rupinder Toor, MD ’96, is a clinical lecturer at the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine. She has been recognized for her work including CSM’s Alumna of Distinction for Community in 2017 and the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.