This is the second piece in a series on Pathfinder’s work advocating for sexual and reproductive rights for all.
Across Pathfinder, one of our underlying strategies for growing the rights of women, girls, and their communities is our global advocacy work. This work focuses on increasing visibility, funding, support, and demand for sexual and reproductive health and rights at the global, regional, and country levels. Our advocacy work includes identifying key decision-makers, influencers, and advocates that have the power to impact change in each country where we operate and building deep relationships with them to facilitate long-term shifts in policy.
Recently, our Pathfinder teams in Nigeria, Kenya, and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) had a few strategic ‘wins’ for reproductive rights.
Kenya: Increasing women’s leadership in local fisheries
In the Kenyan fisheries sector, men and women engage in distinct and often complementary activities that are strongly influenced by the social, cultural, and economic contexts in which they live. In most regions, fishing is male dominated, while women are mostly responsible for onshore tasks, such as fish processing and trading. Despite their significant contribution in the fisheries sector, women continue to experience gender inequities.
In Homabay County, Kenya, Pathfinder conducted a gender analysis to identify gender inequalities affecting women living in fishing communities. Pathfinder assessed the leadership composition of Beach Management Units (BMUs), and then conducted trainings on gender mainstreaming, leadership and governance, and financial independence. Local women participated in facilitated dialogues, giving them a platform to suggest solutions on increasing their agency in the community. Pathfinder conducted an advocacy visit to BMU leaders and lobbied for more women being in leadership positions. Women who expressed interest then received one-on-one mentorship, underwent entrepreneurship trainings, and participated in learning exchanges with women-led businesses.
In March 2023, 155 women were trained and mentored, leading to a 200% increase in women leaders on Homabay County BMU’s executive teams, giving them greater authority about how conservation decisions are made by the units and how resources from fishing are used.
Nigeria: Strengthening public and private partnerships for better health outcomes
In Kaduna state, Nigeria, public and private partnerships are not fully established, resulting in inadequate coordination structures within health systems. Private health establishments and associations are not included in health planning decisions, and established community structures like Traditional Birth Attendants, Ward Development Committees, and Patent and Proprietary Medicine Vendors have links only with public health facilities. Government agencies have largely left implementation of maternal and newborn health (MNH) activities to the public sector alone which has also influenced the low enrollment of private and informal sector (non-civil servant) into State Health Insurance Scheme.
Pathfinder Nigeria supported Kaduna state government stakeholders to strengthen MNH coordination structures in the state; this led to the inclusion of two private-sector associations into the state technical working group meetings, strengthening the collaboration between the private sector and the Kaduna State Ministry of Health.
To address the low enrollment of informal sector into the state health insurance scheme, Pathfinder supported Kaduna State Contributory Health Management Authority (KADCHMA) to conduct town hall meetings in the three senatorial zones of the state to discuss the importance of enrolling the informal sector (non-civil services) into the state health insurance scheme. Religious, traditional and community leaders, ward development committee members, farmers, and women vendors from the local market participated in the town hall meetings. These participants cascaded information about the state health insurance scheme to members of their communities.
In July 2023, through the support of the SMGL 2.0 project, eight supported private health facilities joined the state health insurance scheme. Additionally, 120 women from the informal sector enrolled in the health insurance scheme.
Pathfinder will continue to support the enrollment of more private health facilities into the state health insurance scheme, engage with community stakeholders (religious/traditional/community leaders, ward development committee members) to influence the enrollment of more people from the informal sector (non-civil servants) into the state health insurance scheme, and engage with the state emergency transport scheme to strengthen commuting structures for women in hard-to-reach areas.
DRC: Increasing access to comprehensive abortion care
The Maputo Protocol is the first-ever regional, binding, treaty to recognize abortion, under certain conditions, as a human right of women, without restrictions or fear of legal prosecution. But knowledge of the protocol is still low, and increased awareness is critical to ensure better health outcomes.
In February and March 2023, Pathfinder supported the dissemination of the national guidelines for comprehensive abortion care and the Journal Officiel of March 2018 where the Maputo Protocol was enacted as law in DRC Congo, in three health zones of Kinshasa. This included training providers on comprehensive abortion care, printing national guidelines on the Maputo Protocol for distribution, and distributing the printed materials in targeted health zones. Pathfinder supported NGOs and youth organizations, as they advocated for an inclusive environment favorable to adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health, including access to comprehensive abortion care and sexual and gender-based violence education for prevention and response.
With Pathfinder’s support, the national guidelines on abortion and the Journal Officiel of March 2018 reached 61 health and community leaders in three of Kinshasa’s health zones. Comprehensive abortion care services are now offered because of the publicity of the Protocol in these zones. Three health zones have integrated key information on the Maputo Protocol in their communications plans, and community relays (champions) have incorporated messages from the national abortion guidelines in their consultations at maternity wards.
This Ministry of Health validated the standards and guidelines on comprehensive abortion care, after which Pathfinder helped provide dissemination, advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women in DRC.
Learn more about Pathfinder’s approach to advocacy.
Read Why We Advocate: Part 1.