Norma Yeeting, Executive Director, Kiribati Family Health Association

Norma Yeeting, Executive Director of KFHA

IPPF ESEAOR is celebrating women who's been contributing and leading the SRHR movement across the region by sharing out their inspiring stories here:

This is the story of Norma Yeeting, the Executive Director of Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA). Despite her visual impairment, she has never let that come between her goal of educating the community about contraceptives and SRHR. Read her story below:

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Norma Yeeting, Executive Director of Kiribati Family Health Association (KFHA) since 2010, has had a major impact on the SRHR indicators of the small Pacific island country. Under Norma’s leadership, KFHA have overcome significant barriers to expand their lifesaving work from the capital of South Tarawa to cover 13 outer islands, reaching an estimated 75% of the population.

Having raised a large family herself, Norma understands the challenges many i-Kiribati families face and draws on her own experiences to inspire and educate communities about contraceptives and SRHR.

“I use a lot of my own experiences based on my own family… to try and develop my programs, considering and trying to understand the situation of individual families.

Norma is passionate about empowering people to take control of and responsibility for their own development. Believing that real change is only possible if we first start with ourselves and our families, Norma uses the concept of ‘baronga mam te mwenga’ (literally ‘manage it from home’), which has spread around Kiribati with people as high up as the President adopting this language.

Despite her visual impairment, Norma regularly joins the team on outreach trips and regales communities with risqué stories and her cheeky sense of humour to break the ice and make everyone feel at ease discussing topics which are still considered taboo in Kiribati’s conservative context. A Catholic herself, Norma has worked closely with churches across Kiribati to educate church leaders, including catholic catechists, on SRHR issues - including family planning.

Norma’s passion and energy inspires the KFHA team and board members and the island councils with whom KFHA work, who staunchly supported her nomination for Kiribati’s Distinguished Service Award, which was bestowed upon her as part of Kiribati’s Independence Day Celebrations in 2018.

In 2017, Norma was also recognised as one of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community’s (SPC) 70 inspirational Pacific women.