Joannie Marlene Bewa to give keynote at OKP Partner Days

Dr. Joannie Marlene Bewa, researcher and global advocate for women’s health and education, will give the keynote speech at the Orange Knowledge Partner Days.
Posted by Global Development

We are thrilled to announce that Dr. Joannie Marlene Bewa is our keynote speaker of the Orange Knowledge Partner Days on the plenary session of 26 November. Born in Benin, she is an award-winning medical doctor, sexual and reproductive health expert and advocate for health, gender and education. Her message is both poignant and highly motivational. We feel honoured to have her with us on that day.

Born and raised in Cotonou, Benin, Joannie Bewa learned very early on, the importance of education, excellence and service to the community. Her life trajectory took a major turn after two traumatic events. At 9 years old, she almost died from a respiratory attack but was lucky enough to have urgently been treated by a medical doctor. She made the decision to become a doctor and save lives. As a teenager, she lost one of her best friends, from the complication of an unsafe abortion, occurred after an unintended pregnancy. This motivated her to focus on maternal, sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Gender-based violence

While in Medical School, she founded the Young Beninese Leaders Association in 2010 in Benin Republic, a national civil society organization which reached over 20,000 adolescents and youth on HIV/AIDS awareness, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and leadership. Just one year later, the organisation had a major win against gender-based violence in Benin: it collected enough signatures to contribute to a campaign to lead the Benin Government to adopt the anti-gender-based violence law. YBLA partnered with national and international organizations including the Michelle Obama Young Women Leaders Small Grant Program, the US Embassy and the United Nations Fund for Population.

At 24, she became the first and youngest president of the US Embassy Youth Council in Benin and at 26, the first and youngest advocate to be part of the Benin Government official delegation, involved in negotiating with the UN on issues such as international development and health during the UN Commission on Population and Development. Through her organisation, she was involved in various advocacy efforts co led with the Dutch Embassy in Benin around facilitating access to family planning methods.

All Women United

She joined MDF West Africa as a technical consultant as part of a Nuffic NICHE (OKP’s predecessor) project to train Benin civil society. Recently, she was appointed as a spokesperson and ambassador for VLISCO, a Dutch company as part of their “all women united” campaign in 2020. On the continent, she is spearheading an African movement on gender equality through the African Women Leaders Network Young Women Caucus, a joint initiative between the African Union and the United Nations.

As a globally acclaimed champion and advocate, she was invited by Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the announcement of 650 million USD investment for women’s reproductive health. She is a member of the advisory team of the newly established fund by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie titled “"la francophonie avec elles”, which aims at providing funds to women led organisations in 88 countries. She was featured on Melinda Gates’ list of six influential women on the topic of global access to contraception and won several awards including the ONE CAMPAIGN Woman of the Year Award.


As a researcher and public health expert, Joannie Bewa is currently teaching and conducting research on sexual and reproductive health, COVID19 and health communication at the University of South Florida College of Public Health and provides consulting services for a wide range of international organisations. She holds a Doctorate degree in Medicine from University d’Abomey Calavi, a master in public health from the University of South Florida College of Public Health where she is completing a PhD in public health.

On 26 November Dr. Joannie Bewa will share her vision and ideas regarding the importance of education, gender and health, and the power of collaboration during a 15-minute live speech.