Mallah Tabot

Mallah Tabot - 2016 Nominee
Position: Program Director
Organization: United Vision
-Developed/implemented program leading to 78% increase in demand/use of long-term contraception in rural Cameroon. -Created the Peer Facilitators' academy to train young people on peer SRHR education. – Jean-Bernard Delbarre, Director of Global Programs at HRA Pharma Foundation
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

Through a pilot program, “The Men Project”, we've engaged men and boys in sexual and reproductive health and family planning. Through the use of theatre and art, 68 men were motivated to accompany their partners for antenatal visits, sign up for long term contraception with their partners and act as community change agents to encourage other men to walk in their footsteps.
We're also launching the Peer Facilitators’ Academy where young people are trained on how to communicate with their peers on such difficult topics such as sex and sexuality while referring them to the appropriate service providers to get their needs met including contraception.
I'm also a blogger who's written several articles on the need for youth-friendly SRHR for adolescents/young people for various platforms.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

I come from a country/continent where there are still numerous taboos. In 2016 there's still the fear to talk openly about abortion or to have a polite conversation about women being able to make decisions about their own bodies. For many women, sex is still something that is done non-consensually. Usually there is no separation of pleasure from procreation and young women have to bear the burden of unwanted pregnancies. I've grown up to find these unacceptable and hence decided to take action.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your family planning efforts, and what have you done to overcome it?

As a young woman leading a team of young women working on adolescent SRHR in rural Cameroon, my biggest obstacle has been to change traditional beliefs about the role of a woman's womb in society and reinforcing the message of bodily autonomy. Sex is still a taboo in most of these communities and sexuality education or Family Planning programs are considered harmful. However by engaging patriarchal institutions, I'm breaking those barriers and involving men and women in SRHR and contraception.

What is your (country/region/city)’s biggest challenge in family planning, and how can it be addressed?

Through my extensive work on providing affordable and long lasting contraceptives to women and girls who need them the most, I've come to understand that availability is not the problem. The biggest barrier to FP use in Cameroon is education, with major gatekeepers being men/husbands/traditional rulers etc. forbidding its use . Until we educate all facets of society on the importance of FP and why it is central to our survival, stocks of contraception will keep gathering dust on clinic shelves.

What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years?

My bigger goal is to see all women and girls in my country having total and complete control over their own bodies, with the power and ability to decide whether, when and if to have a child. To achieve this, I plan on growing my organization such that it's a flagship organization running a nationwide program on education/access to Family Planning, liaising with service providers who also mainstream youth-friendly services. I'm also working on a mobile application for sex ed among young people.

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