She has been featured by the US Embassy as a force of change in Benin Republic and selected as a delegate for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Women in Public Service Project. Joannie Bewa is indeed an inspiring young African and a force to be reckoned with in her field.
At 16, she was admitted into the University to study medical sciences on a scholarship by the Benin government after finishing exceptionally in her Baccalaureate exam. She astounded the naysayers who tried to discourage her from pursuing her dreams. Bewa understood quite early in her life’s journey that a lot of other people’s dreams in her community where to a huge extent tied to hers and so she fought tirelessly to ensure that she didn’t disappoint them.
While at the University, Bewa discovered her passion for community service and jumped to it with courage, eventhough it was a new activity in her community especially for women. She then began volunteering for non-profit organizations whose focus was sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. Through these organizations, Bewa discovered and developed new skills in leadership, conflict resolution, and human management.
In 2010, she founded the Young Beninese Leaders Association (YBLA) and led a Red Ribbon campaign with 300 volunteers who marched against stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS in her community. Through the national awareness campaign, her organization was also able to reach 10,000 young people.
In November 2012, Bewa led a campaign against gender-based violence (GBV) to lobby for the vote of the Benin anti-Gender Based Violence law. The law was passed through the vote but needed to be ratified to come into effect and so with the support of the American Cultural Center in Benin, Bewa and her team sought and obtained 2,000 signatures on a national petition and got the ratification few months later.
With the members of YBLA, the change agent is currently working on a yearlong mentoring and leadership program for outstanding young women in her country. They hope to form partnerships with other interested organizations to make more impact.
Bewa is also the founder and coordinator of the Women’s Empowerment Campaign, which was selected by the U.S. government to receive a grant. The campaign consisted of leadership and self-confidence workshops as well as entrepreneurship training in five major cities in Benin.
So far, two thousand young girls have benefited from the leadership workshop, while 400 others have received entrepreneurial training in the early-to-middle stages of their careers. In March 2013, Bewa was a youth delegate at the first francophone women world forum. She was part of the team that designed a “White Book” with 15 recommendations on gender-based violence, entrepreneurship, women’s education, and governance. She has also engaged in debates on the subject of Pan-Africanism, and written several articles to sensitize and engage more youths and women in the reunification of the African continent.
Despite the many obstacles on her way, the power woman has remained focused on her vision, doing her best at every opportunity. In October 2012, she was hosted in Paris by Smith College and the U.S. Department of State for her selfless service and immense contribution to humanity. Bewa was also honored at the International Organization of Francophonie where she was recognized as one of the 10 most outstanding young women leaders in Benin through the “Francophonie au Féminin” exhibition.
Joannie Bewa is indeed a huge inspiration to African youths and the world at large.