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Tshego Bessenaar

Tshego Bessenaar - 2017 Nominee
Position: Director of Southern Africa Programs
Organization: Ibis Reproductive Health
Current Location: South Africa, Africa
Masters of Arts (Research Psychology) from University of Kwazulu Natal
Additional Degrees and Certifications:
- Good Clinical Practice, 2014
- BA (Hons) Psychology, University of KwaZulu Natal, 2006
- BA Psychology, University of KwaZulu Natal, 2005
- Certificate, Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, SPSS-SA, 2009
- Certificate, Quality Assurance, University Research Company, 2009
- Certificate (Human Subjects Protection Good Clinical Practice) Division of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (DAIDS), 2008
- Certificate (Quality Management), DAIDS, 2008
- Certificate, Advanced Counselling skills, University of Natal, 2002
Awards Received:
  • Award:
    CODESRIA
    Awarding Organization:
    Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
    Date Awarded:
    November 13, 2008
  • Award:
    Monitoring and Evaluation of CSE programs
    Awarding Organization:
    International Women's Health Coalition
    Date Awarded:
    April 9, 2015
  • Award:
    Best Oral Presentation
    Awarding Organization:
    Psychology South Africa
    Date Awarded:
    November 1, 2007
Tshego is a phenomenal woman who has her heart centered in all spheres of family planning. Not only is she a researcher, but also a passionate advocate who travels all over the world making sexual and reproductive health rights for woman a reality. – Maphaladi Phaladi, Project Manager at LifeLine Johannesburg
Describe your contributions to and achievements in family planning.

In my work at Ibis, family planning is addressed through three research areas: Access to safe abortion services, Contraceptives and linking HIV to reproductive health. My overall achievements include leading Ibis’s regional work, translating research we conduct to inform reproductive health policies, working with young people to build their SRHR knowledge and leadership, convening national coalitions that seek to inform improvement in SRH service provision, strengthened partnerships with key government departments in South Africa, and tacking issues that a few tackles, adolescent sexuality and abortion.

What sparked your passion for family planning?

Rates of undesired pregnancies and HIV infection amongst young people sparked my passion for family planning. For this reason I continue to work with young people and support youth community groups who often don't have resources to mobilise sexuality education in their communities. Mmoho adopts a right-based approach, and discourages shaming and blaming language but emphasise access to a range of contraceptives as key to empowering young people to plan their future pregnancies.

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

I allocate fund to support youth groups so they continue to implement their community programmes. I also support youth to attend convenings and conferences on reproductive health. In 2015, I hosted a young women sexual and reproductive health leadership workshop. I have created opportunities for young people to be part of high level meetings, an example is a closed Ministerial Meeting with 10 ministers of health and education from African countries hosted by UNESCO.

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? :

Dynamic Youth Crew is a community based youth group. The group use creative arts to communicate health messages across townships and informal settlements in Johannesburg. They travel across the community to schools, healthcare facilities and community halls to educate young people and the community at large about sexual and reproductive health using creative arts. I will use the $1000 to support the efforts by this group and document key achievements to share with other mmoho implementers.

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