Marlene Joannie Bewa
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.
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
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.
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.
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.