Marlene Joannie Bewa

Marlene Joannie Bewa - 2016 Nominee
Position: Medical doctor, Executive Director YBLA
Organization: Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA), Women Deliver Young Leader, PMNCH Adolescent and Youth Constituency
Advocacy toward the government, media, community to make contraceptions free in Benin Awareness / Capacity building / Campaigning online via social media/Sports to promote family planning Global advocacy:Commission on Population and developement – Nominator
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

At 26, I'm the youngest ever member of the Benin Government delegation at the Commission for Population and Developement Negociations in New York in 2015. I co-drafted Benin statement and ensured there is a clear commitment to increase investment in family planning, which has become effective. I joined the contraceptive free methods campaigns and I'm supporting the inclusion of the Benin governement in global partnerships with a focus on RMNCH and Family Planning so that our national policies are more aligned with the global strategy for Women's and child health. I have been a part of an advocacy campaign which leads to creation of the Adolescent and Youth Constituency in the PMNCH and also pushed the Family planning related Sustainable Development Goals during various campaigns.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

When I was a teenager, My best friend, had an unwanted pregnancy, made an unsafe abortion and died. In my last year of medical school and a part of my medical thesis research, I realized the high economic return of family planning compared to the cost of unplanned pregnancies, which is estimated to almost 6 times the monthly income of households. When I joined the Women Deliver Young leader program, I became more equipped to advocate for family planning at policy, community and global level

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

This biggest challenge is the resistance of a system toward meaningfull youth participation at policy level.
I also notice there is a lack of sufficient investments to make available free family planning methods.
Advocacy , strategic alliances and partnership have been the key of my success to overcome this challenge.

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

Benin contraceptive prevalence rate is 8%. The unmet need is still high especially for adolescent and youth, both in rural and urban areas. There is a need to design inclusive programs and comprehensive sexuality education with extensive modules on family planning so that the next generation can grow up with safe habits, not at risk behaviours and can be able to develop a sense of responsability. More domestic and external ressources are required to make FP methods free for the vulnerable.

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

I will develop an application to make the online mapping of youth friendly family planning health centers, anyone who need family planning services can just check the mapp online.
I will establish a nation wide advisory council on Family planning and provide seed grant for the most effective and impactful youth organization. The members of this council will advise the direction of family planning in the ministry of health on policies and contribute at implementation level.

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