Voices for Health: Supporting Family Planning Advocacy
In 2016, Planned Parenthood Global committed to pilot the development of multi-stakeholder coalitions in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda and Nicaragua, advocating for national policies, guidelines, and regulations that will improve and expand sexual and reproductive health services. More than 200 million women around the world have an unmet need for contraception, contributing to high rates of unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortions, maternal death, and teen pregnancy. Far too often international human rights agreements aimed at empowering women and girls and prioritizing quality, accessible reproductive health care do not translate into concrete policies at the country level. Through these new coalitions, Planned Parenthood Global will work with diverse stakeholders in target countries to develop media and advocacy campaigns tailored to local contexts, challenges, and opportunities to affect lasting change through public policy and social mobilization.
Powerful change happens when community leaders, health care providers, and advocates work together to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Planned Parenthood Global commits to support educators, activists, and health care providers to work together in coalitions as champions for health and rights in their societies. By providing financial and technical assistance to more than 20 grassroots organizations, Planned Parenthood will support the formation of national coalitions in three African countries (Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda) and Nicaragua. The Planned Parenthood Global advocacy model centers on convening a diverse mix of national advocates, including but not limited to professional medical associations, legal and human rights advocates, youth leaders, and media and communications experts.
Under this new commitment, Planned Parenthood Global has identified member organizations to form powerful coalitions in the four pilot countries. Once coalitions are convened, Planned Parenthood Global will provide tailored technical assistance to partners to support their institutional capacity, advocacy and communications strategies, monitoring and evaluation, administrative, and financial systems. Once formed, Planned Parenthood Global will provide continuous technical assistance and training on topics ranging from advocacy, media, and social media training, as well as facilitating cross regional collaboration to translate success across regions and countries, including sharing success stories around strategic litigation.
Country based coalitions will work to advance sexual and reproductive rights in the target countries through a variety of means, including high-level political advocacy in support of family planning access and hard-hitting paid media campaigns aimed at improving public opinion around country-specific topics ranging from young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education to support for decriminalizing abortion. For example, an initial campaign in Uganda will share messages and images illustrating the need for accessible pregnancy prevention methods targeting both policymakers in a position to implement district-level family planning policies, as well as the general public in an effort to mobilize public support for the implementation of these policies.
Coalition partners will include member associations of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which often the leading provider of contraception in a given country. In Senegal, partners will include two legal associations, the national network of young lawyers and the national network of women lawyers, who will provide pro bono legal aid to those denied access to services and engage in strategic litigation aimed at improving health policy. In Burkina Faso, partners will include two youth networks working at the local and national level to build young people’s capacity to champion their own rights and need for judgment-free access to health care.
In the first quarter of calendar year 2017, Planned Parenthood Global will seek consent from potential partner organizations to sign onto the CGI Commitment “Voices for Health” and to formalize their partnership in the national coalition. Planned Parenthood Global selects partners based on existing relationships with advocates working to advance sexual and reproductive rights in the target countries. By the end of year one of the commitment, each coalition will launch a hard-hitting paid media campaign aimed at improving public opinion around country-specific topics ranging from young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education to support for decriminalizing abortion.
Ongoing in all quarters: provide tailored technical assistance to partners to support their institutional capacity, advocacy and communications strategies, monitoring and evaluation, administrative and financial systems.
Q1 Formulate commitment
Q2 Approach in-country partners to sign onto commitment including local advocacy and media experts; secure public opinion firms
Q3 Field public opinion polls to formulate a baseline on public support for adolescent access to contraception and access to safe abortion for a variety of reasons including rape, incest and life endangerment
Q4 Pretest concepts and messages around public media campaigns
Q1 Finalize and launch media campaigns
Q2 Tap into national human rights and public health discussions, release refreshed campaign materials
Q3 Support partners in story collection to document impact of campaign
Q4 Support partners to broaden campaigns and bring in external partners
Q1 Refresh and relaunch campaigns, updating materials to tap into timely national discussions
Q2 Conduct media audit to determine campaign and partner impact on public discourse
Q3 Continuation of other planned activities
Q4 Design questionnaire for follow-up opinion polling
Q1 Field opinion polls
Q2 Document partner successes
Q3 Work with partners to prepare success stories for international, regional, and national fora
Q4 Convene all partners to discuss sustainability of campaigns beyond project scope
Around the world, more than 200 million women have an unmet need for contraception (Adding It Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Sexual and Reproductive Health, Guttmacher Institute, 2014). This contributes to high rates of unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, maternal death, and young women dropping out of school rather than pursuing meaningful careers and becoming leaders in their countries. While many developing countries have signed on to global human rights agreements aimed at empowering women and girls and improving health, these commitments are rarely paired with strong national policies with concrete guidelines and regulations that advocates can track to ensure that they are implemented.
Planned Parenthood Global will develop, convene, and support coalitions, equipping them to advocate for national policies, guidelines, and regulations that will improve and expand sexual and reproductive health services. Together with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Planned Parenthood Global has selected four target countries, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, and Nicaragua, in which to implement this commitment. These countries are among the world’s poorest and are also included on list of countries targeted by the Family Planning 2020 initiative, a global target to improve women’s access to family planning.
Countries were selected based on need and presence of advocacy partners with the potential to grow their work and unite to form coalitions. Additionally, the need for better policies or better implementation of existing policies was considered, as well as Planned Parenthood Global’s existing relationships and capacity to make an impact in providing technical assistance to local partners. For example, Uganda was selected based on the readiness of local partners to scale up participation in: national debates around public health, setting the national agenda around family planning, and countering opponents and stigma around modern contraception. In addition, two countries in Francophone Africa were selected, Burkina Faso and Senegal, in an effort to not only boost advocacy capacity nationally, but regionally. Both nations have impressive legislation in place and potentially supportive administrations, yet they face continued challenges in translating laws and policies into real world health access for women and girls.
There has been significant progress in the development of multi-stakeholder coalitions in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda, and Nicaragua, advocating for national policies, guidelines, and regulations that will improve and expand sexual and reproductive health services. The coalitions have been formed and many have already launched advocacy-related projects or campaigns in their countries. For example, in Uganda, partners launched a campaign to promote young people’s knowledge of and access to a range of contraceptive services, and performed message-testing to expand the campaign to focus on changing public opinion around youth access to family planning. Just last month, Voices for Health partners launched two trailers at the famous FESPACO Pan African film festival as part of their message-tested and evidence-based “Silence Kills” campaign. The trailers showcase a first-person narrative from one of two perspectives: that of a provider, or that of an adult woman looking back on an experience she had as a teenager. The intent is to shift public opinion in support of youth access to family planning services. The trailers are now available on YouTube
Through CGI, Planned Parenthood seeks media, marketing and advertising expertise across a broad range of global health topics as we support our partners to carry out public opinion polls, message testing, and targeted advertising buys to advance their goals. Planned Parenthood also seeks collaborators in each of the focus countries, particularly Uganda and Francophone West Africa, who can participate in and help to amplify partners’ campaigns.
As part of the Voices for Health initiative, Planned Parenthood will continue to offer technical and financial support to selected in-country partners through funding made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies.