Otibho Obianwu is a Program Manager at the Population Council specializing in developing, implementing and evaluating evidence-based programs for women, girls, and other vulnerable populations in Nigeria. Obianwu oversees key research studies in the Nigeria office as part of the Evidence to End FGM/C consortium, which is generating a global evidence base on the most effective and cost-effective approaches to ending female genital mutilation / cutting (FGM/C).
Obianwu serves as a principal investigator on key studies within the FGM/C consortium. Her research is examining the shift from traditional to medicalized FGM/C procedures and challenging assumptions about why this is happening. She has found that social norms continue to drive the practice in Nigeria and that interventions targeting families and key influencers including health workers are essential for the practice to be abandoned. She is also examining the Nigerian health sector’s response to the prevention of FGM/C and the provision of care to women and girls that have suffered FGM/C-related complications.
Prior to her work on FGM/C, Obianwu led research, program, and advocacy efforts to understand, elevate, and address some of the challenges facing key populations at risk for HIV infection. Her work to identify the various sexual and reproductive health vulnerabilities facing Nigerian adolescents and young people helped inform the country’s first national HIV strategy for adolescents and young people as well as guidelines on the age of consent for access to sexual and reproductive health services and participation in research. She has implemented programming to help prevent HIV infection in men who have sex with men and persons who use drugs, which contributed to the design and implementation of more effective programs to support these populations in Nigeria.
As a medical doctor by training, a women and LGBT rights advocate, and intersectional feminist, Obianwu sees the importance of evidence to understand the social determinants of health and the power of that evidence to advocate for the health and well-being of men, women, and adolescents. She is the recipient of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) 2019 Paula Kantor Award for Excellence in Field Research.
Obianwu holds an MD from Columbia University and an MPH from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research has been published in high-impact journals including PLOS One and AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses and presented at major international conferences. As a volunteer, she serves as the Director of Programs for the Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative in Nigeria and is a member of Astraea Foundation and Mama Cash’s Lesbian Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) Women’s Funding Project Advisory Committee and FRIDA the Young Feminist Fund’s Change Team.