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 Bangladesh and Tanzania had a number of strategic ‘wins’ for reproductive rights.
Tanzania: Increased availability of FC2, the female condom
FC2, the female condom, has often been promoted in the country only to targeted high-risk groups, such as sex workers and women living with HIV and AIDS. Female condoms were often marketed solely to women, excluding men from the decision-making process, and leading to resistance in acceptance of the method.
Pathfinder supported meetings to reinstate and address the importance of repositioning the female condom for dual purpose – to make it more attractive to all sexually active couples, as opposed to only those in high risk groups.
Pathfinder also mapped out the key partners involved in the female condom supply chain, promotion, and distribution to join forces. The project collaborated with Tanzania’s Medical Stores Department, UNFPA, and the Global Health Supply Chain to ensure uninterrupted female condom supply and uptake.
1.5 million female condoms were procured and distributed by the Medical Stores Department of Tanzania in 2021, up from 300,000 in 2017, a 400% increase.
In previous times, it was not easy for me to ask for the female condom every time I visited at the clinic because I was asking myself what the perceptions were of other women. But after being sensitized by Shakira, who is our community health mobilizer, I am now free to take it and it’s my first preventive choice.Marina Claud, An FC2 user, Buguruni, Tanzania
Bangladesh: Courtyard Meeting Guidelines adopted by national government
Courtyard Meetings are a platform in Bangladesh where community members are brought together to build awareness at the community level on sexual and reproductive health and rights and family planning. They are an opportunity for women, men, newlywed couples, adolescents, and community leaders to discuss and raise awareness around sexual and reproductive health. Even though the national family planning program of Bangladesh has been organizing these meetings at the community level, there was no set of guidelines to facilitate the courtyard meetings. Since guidelines did not exist to facilitate these meetings, approaches were not uniform.
Pathfinder, using the SMART Advocacy Approach, organized and held a national sharing event on Courtyard Meeting Guidelines, alongside the Directorate General of Family Planning, with technical support from the USAID Accelerating Universal Access to Family Planning Project, also known as Shukhi Jibon. Pathfinder developed the draft guidelines, field tested the guidelines, and developed the final product for promotion and dissemination.
Pathfinder’s advocacy strategy led to the adoption, acknowledgement, and roll out of the Courtyard Meeting Guidelines at the national level, through partnership with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In addition, 20,000 copies of the Courtyard Meeting Guidelines have been distributed to community health workers, who organize courtyard meetings at the community level throughout the country. Pathfinder also successfully worked with the Directorate General of Family Planning, under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to support the courtyard meetings with their own resources.
Tanzania: Paying community taxi drivers to save lives
Pathfinder’s Mobilizing Maternal Health, or m-mama, program aims to reduce maternal mortality and neonatal deaths by implementing a digital health intervention, using a mobile platform and community-based taxis. But in order to ensure program sustainability, m-mama needed to have the local government pay for the cost of the taxis.
Pathfinder worked to ensure financial sustainability of m-mama through a staged approach, where the government contribution increased over a period of three years, starting at 20% in 2017, and reaching 100% by the end of 2020. The approach was introduced, and approved, through consultative meetings with decision-makers from the regional to the district level.
The Local Government Authority in the Shinyanga Region contributed 100% of payments for community taxi drivers, up from the 20% contribution in 2017. Further, m-mama is being scaled up nationally. The latter phase of the program increase in scope and geography was launched in March 2022 by Her Excellency, the President of Tanzania, Mrs. Samia Suluhu Hassan, who urged the Government to take ownership of the m-mama intervention, an important step for the programs’ sustainability.