Annabel Sowemimo

Annabel Sowemimo - 2019 Nominee
Position: Sexual and Reproductive Health doctor
Organization: Decolonising contraception
Current Location: United Kingdom, Europe
Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from University College London
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
MSc Sexual & Reproductive Health Research (London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene)
iBSc Medical Anthropology (University College London)
Diploma in Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (Médecins Sans Frontières and Royal College of Physicians)
Diploma of the Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Health (Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Health, Royal College of Obstetrics & Gynaecology)
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    Rare Rising Star
    Awarding Organization:
    Rare Recruitment
    Date Awarded:
    August 10, 2012
  • Award:
    Future Leader
    Awarding Organization:
    Powerful Media
    Date Awarded:
    September 10, 2012
75 Public Votes Reached!
Sexual Health (SH) doctor & freelance journalist, Annabel, founded Decolonising Contraception to challenge conventional, colonial SH narratives and improve access to SH services for people of colour through events, social media & digital resources. – Jayne Kavanagh, Principal Clinical Teaching Fellow at UCL Medical School
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Following my gut and starting Decolonising Contraception, a community organisation for people of colour working in sexual and reproductive health to come together and challenge conventional narratives within the field feels like my biggest achievement to date. After, becoming a community sexual & reproductive health doctor which, is very small specialty in the UK, I saw that very few people were prepared to have the necessary conversations about reproductive health inequalities and race. I decided it was not going to change any time soon unless myself and others pulled together and started challenging people to think more broadly. Since, then I have written articles, spoken at universities and on panels about how colonialism has shaped the face of SRH and what we can all do about it.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

When I was studying Medical Anthropology (as part of my medical degree), it really changed how I perceived the world and issues on my own doorstep. I found these huge health disparities within reproductive health in my own community for example, black women in the UK are still five times more likely to die in childbirth. Yet there is still a lot of silence around sex and reproduction – I thought I like a challenge, I like the political aspect and I can really make a difference here.

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

Despite black women having high rates of recurrent abortions in the UK, there are very few that are willing to talk about the subject due to stigma. I am very proud that I continue to openly advocate for abortion rights and provide my community with the visibility that is needed.
Recently I was seconded to the Department of Health & Social Care where I explored how we can use digital platforms to improve contraception access - I think this is a vital area for future development.

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? :

There is a need for a more innovative approach to tackling SRH in the UK. Decolonising Contraception is planning on creating a one day SRH festival which brings together inter-disciplinary professionals and the public to help address the needs of marginalised communities. Receiving the grant would help make the festival a reality and raise awareness about the barriers people of colour face in accessing reproductive health care.

Subscribe to receive email updates about 120 Under 40.