From the East to the West Coast of Africa, to far and beyond the Asian continent, family planning advocacy partners converged in Baltimore, one of the oldest cities in the United States. These Advance Family Planning (AFP) project implementers spent the last week of March 2017 to take stock of the work they embarked on a few years back to influence favourable policies and increase investments in family planning programs. Click here to learn about the AFP partners meeting 2017.
The ultimate deliverable that unites all partners across countries is to contribute to the FP2020 goal: reaching new 120 million women and girls with quality voluntary family planning information, services and supplies. Therefore, one week of collective reflection annually, is what AFP does to acknowledge advocacy quick wins, determine new approaches while learning from lessons to enrich the project’s interventions across the ten focus countries and a number of partners.
Joined by their main funder, the Gates Foundation, the community of advocates noted with great concern the current challenges that threaten stability of family planning (FP) programs. These ranged between unpredictable political systems in some partner countries, gloomy economic times, and a fast changing global environment. Evidently, the funding cuts by the new US government – the biggest funder of FP programs.
But given the advocacy wins gathered by all partners across countries that have by and large seen more domestic resources channeled to family planning, and policy barriers being overcome to improve FP access, “advocacy was needed more now than ever before” said AFP’s Principle Investigator Duff Gillespie.
In his upbeat presentation at the beginning of the annual meeting, Duff highlighted possibilities and opportunities for strengthening FP advocacy through sustained engagement of working groups, coalitions and maintaining personal contacts with decision makers to ensure local ownership and sustainability of FP programs.
Going forward, AFP implementers using SMART advocacy are determined more than ever before to take FP advocacy to the next level: building on advocacy wins, strengthen advocacy collaborative by drawing in critical CSO actors in focus countries; maximize use of evidence/data to promote accountability; and enhance tracking and measuring success.