Adolescent & Youth Sexual & Reproductive Health Toolkit: Advocacy
Advocacy refers to the process of increasing support and building a favorable environment for a particular issue – in this case, the sexual and reproductive health of urban young people. Advocacy strategies can include a range of activities, such as:
- Meeting with policymakers and community or religious leaders
- Running public information campaigns
- Training journalists to report about young people’s SRH in a positive manner
Building successful advocacy strategies requires in-depth knowledge of context, partnerships, SMART objectives, knowledge of decision-makers, solid work plan and budget, and a clear set of indicators for measuring success. Some advocacy goals are achievable in the short- or medium-term (e.g., increasing support for comprehensive sexuality education among school principals), while others require long-term investments (e.g., changing a law).
Ensuring the enactment of human rights-based laws and policies for SRH is one important focus for advocacy efforts. Advocacy may also be employed to ensure effective implementation and monitoring – of laws, policies, budgets and more. Importantly, advocacy can also help ensure that government bodies are held to account for the provision of rights-based services and SRH information for urban young people.
Budget Advocacy for AYSRH
In 2001, the Center for Enquiry Into Health and Allied Themes (CEHAT) developed a model for integrated SRH and sexual and gender-based violence services for young people in public hospitals in Mumbai known as ‘Dilaasa centers.’ In attempting to secure the project’s sustainability and scale-up, CEHAT focused its advocacy on securing a budget line item in the National Rural Health Mission’s (NRHM) budget. In India’s decentralized health system, a budget line item at the national level paves the way for state-level budget advocacy. Since securing the line item, CEHAT has been able to set up 10 more Dilaasa centers in Maharashtra state, and other states are currently piloting the model for integration into their public health service. At the same time, CEHAT conducted advocacy together with the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai to secure the integration of the World Health Organization’s standards on public health systems’ responses to sexual and gender based violence. Together, the budget and the standards established a framework for a sustainable, integrated, high-quality public sector response to sexual and gender-based violence in India that includes the provision of contraception to survivors.
A myriad of tools exist to help advocates undertake step-by-step planning for encouraging action to prevent early pregnancy and poor reproductive outcomes among adolescent girls as well as young people advocate for themselves for improved adolescent health and well-being. This toolkit section focuses on how to build a positive legal environment for young people’s SRH, and how to position accountability in advocacy and programming.