It’s always inspiring to see people come together to share their views and opinions about sexuality and youth empowerment and how to reach out to other youth with knowledge about these issues.
At this year’s annual conference held on February 1st 2018, representatives of FEMA clubs from secondary schools across the country met to do exactly that. This year’s theme was “Saying No to Gender-based violence” including female genital mutilation (FGM), early marriage, sexual abuse and more.
Some key areas of emphasis from the conference are noted below:
Behaviour change takes time
Gender-based violence is likely to continue
But change is on the horizon thanks to knowledgeable and empowered young people, who are continually making their voices heard, pushing for change at the policy level and at the community level by engaging all gatekeepers. These young adults remain positive that progress or change is inevitable.
The main message shared among participations is that young people should not give up because policies and legal frameworks already exist to protect the rights of young people among other citizens.
The panel consisted of youth, policymakers and advocates, including Ms. Halima Shariff, Director of Advance Family Planning Tanzania.
11 October has been marked as the International Day of the Girl around the world. The day aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.
To mark this day, Halima Shariff, Director of the Advance Family Planning project in Tanzania, shared the following video messages. Thanks to the power of social media, the messages reached Tanzanians far and wide.
The videos have been shared nationally through social media platforms reaching individuals of all ages and parts of the country. Here’s a snapshot of some of the shares from some social media influencers in Tanzania:
As members of parliament get ready for the 2017/18 budget session, advocates for family planning are pleading for a higher allocation for family planning. While commending the government for recently announcing a 7bn Tanzanian shillings (Tshs) allocation of FP in 2017/18, representing a 2bn Tshs rise from the current financial year, some members of the Tanzania Coalition for Demographic Awareness and Action (TCDAA) appealed for more given the dwindling donor support.
“With the US government, a major donor in RMNCAH programs worldwide, cutting its funding to UNFPA, a key global actor, family planning programs will more likely be negatively impacted,” a TCDAA member said. This would be felt in the area of commodity supply, as well as capacity strengthening initiatives that have steadily contributed to increased number of family planning providers.
Although Tanzania is making progress in infant, child and under-5 mortality according to the 2015-16 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey (TDHS-MIS), the indicators for maternal mortality and teenage pregnancy have worsened over time. A comparison of the indicators from TDHS reports shows below:
Evidence abound on the association of family planning and maternal mortality where the latter can be reduced by 44%. Investing in family planning also contributes to reduction of teenage pregnancy rates. Although there has been an encouraging trend (figure below) on the government keeping its FP2020 promise – to increase resources for family planning – the allocated and disbursed amounts over the years fall short of an estimated need of 20 billion Tshs as per the National Family Planning Costed Implementation Plan (NFPCIP) 2010 – 2015.
Advocates are therefore, calling upon the government to increase 5 billion Tshs every financial year between 2017/18 to 2020/21 with a targeted allocation for the latter estimated at 22 billion Tshs. Conversely, Local Government Authorities also ought to increase their allocations and disbursements to strengthen family planning program reach and provide oversight on sustained contraceptive availability as well as demand generation. These efforts will enhance Tanzania’s resolve to accelerate its attainment of a 45% and 60% targets for contraceptives modern, and all methods, respectively and meet its commitment to reduce maternal mortality to 293/100,000 by 2020.
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.