TCI Global Toolkit: AdvocacyAdvocacy with Family Planning Champions
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What Is It?
Advocacy with family planning champions means engaging with individuals who believe in the values and benefits of family planning and adolescent and youth sexual and reproductive health (AYSRH) to actively support and promote family planning to others and help create a supportive family planning policy and social environment.
Family planning champions can include:
- National and county leaders
- Religious leaders
- Opinion leaders
- Community health workers
- Health care service providers
- Satisfied contraceptive method users
- Youth leaders
They can be found in different sectors of the community and can play a variety of roles in advocating and promoting family planning. Their expertise, contacts, position of authority and social recognition and acceptance can help influence perceptions, attitudes and decisions, helping to support family planning programs.
Using these techniques, these identified champions can sensitize others on family planning and encourage them to become champions as well. This can help add to the pool of champions, and can further advance family planning programs at the community level.
What Are the Benefits?
- Builds broad-based support across communities, including among religious, political and other leaders
- Adds credibility to family planning advocacy activities, as champions are positive voices from within the community
- Helps advocate for positive policies and needed infrastructure that family planning programs require
- Dispels myths and misperceptions about family planning services; as trendsetters and initiators of change, champions can speak positively to their communities about the importance of family planning
Tupange Pamoja, as TCI is known in East Africa, supports local governments to identify and train Family Planning Champions on advocacy tactics to promote family planning. This includes political leaders, such as the Mayor of Mukono, Uganda, who has become an outspoken advocate of family planning after engaging with TCI. Tupange Pamoja also trains TCI Youth Champions to advocate for AYSRH solutions and mobilize their peers to attend outreaches and seek contraceptive counseling across Kenya.
Francophone West Africa
TCI in Francophone West Africa recruits family planning champions from existing community groups such as religious leaders, satisfied modern method clients, and youth leaders to promote family planning and child birth spacing in their spheres of influence.
The Challenge Initiative for Healthy Cities (TCIHC) in India coaches health care service providers and community health workers to serve as FP Champions and help women and men understand their reproductive health and rights. This increases demand for family planning and other sexual and reproductive health services and has prompted a number of satisfied contraceptive method users to become champions as well. These Sarita share information with their family and friends and refer them to urban service delivery points.
TCI in Nigeria enlists state leaders and religious and traditional leaders as family planning/child birth spacing champions to advocate for family planning in different fora. The First Lady of Delta State helped get maternal health on the agenda of Child Health Week in Delta State. Family planning was promoted as a part of these celebrations, and high-volume sites stocked up on family planning commodities in preparation for increased demand as a result. TCI in Nigeria trains religious and traditional leaders to spread messages about family planning and child birth spacing in their religious communities and at religious events. This allows women and men to take up family planning when they learn that verses in the Qur’an support it.
How to Implement
Identify and select champions
Consider the following attributes in champions:
- Eagerness to actively participate in family planning activities
- Recognition and respect among peers and community members as an opinion leader
- Good public speaking abilities
- Ability and willingness to clearly articulate the values of family planning
You can use different methods to identify potential champions:
- The Net-Map method can help identify potential stakeholders, family planning champions and challenges, as was used in Nigeria and Francophone West Africa at the national and local levels to help guide their advocacy work.
- A “snowball” approach, in which you identify the first champions, for example by using some of the information in the Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative’s key informant interview questionnaire and the Family Planning Effort Index. These champions can then help identify other potential champions, and so forth.
Train champions on family planning and advocacy topics
Different groups of champions may require specialized training. For example:
- Community health workers may need training on how to provide family planning to their clients, so they are better prepared to champion family planning in their work and with their communities. Tupange Pamoja’s five-day training on family planning for community health workers can be a guide.
- Religious, community and political leaders may benefit from an orientation event to better prepare them to talk about family planning at the national, community and individual levels. Tupange Pamoja developed a 1.5-day facilitators guide for orienting community leaders, religious leaders, champions and gatekeepers on the benefits of family planning. In Francophone West Africa and Nigeria, TCI engages with religious leaders and members of interfaith fora, coaching them in cohorts to support each other to share family planning messages in their religious communities. This can be a key way to recruit additional family planning champions. The orientation can include a range of materials depending on the champions’ needs. Examples include:
- Tupange Pamoja’s Myth and Misconceptions Booklet and a presentation on Myths and Misconceptions can be adapted for your setting.
- The Population Reference Bureau’s ENGAGE presentations offer 1-3 minute introductions on a range of topics, which can be incorporated into the training.
- Family Planning Advocacy Through Religious Leaders can provide further guidance.
Working with Religious Leaders
Consider holding an interfaith forum with religious leaders of different faiths. In Nigeria, interfaith forums between Muslims and Christians were established across TCI-supported states. They meet regularly, working closely with the Advocacy Working Group in the community to enhance family planning programming. Religious leaders in Nigeria find the sermon notes particularly helpful in reaching out to their congregants with family planning messages. In Kenya, TCI supported the Kericho County health team to collaborate with religious leaders to reach youth with accurate information about AYSRH. The county health team and youth champions were trained in AYSRH through a cascaded approach and reach youth with family planning messages at church-organized events.
Create an action plan for implementation purposes
- As you develop your strategy with the Advocacy Working Group, include activities geared toward family planning champions such as community events or orientation meetings.
- Convene a series of meetings to address community concerns and provide additional training. You can start broadly by meeting with your group of identified champions. Then, narrow your focus once you identify additional groups to target. For example, in Nigeria, the Advocacy Working Group first held a one-day meeting with champions to discuss family planning and its link to development. The working group then asked the champions for their suggestions for other community groups to visit, and the working group conducted one-day training sessions for these other groups to spread correct information about family planning. During the training, they held question and answer sessions and taught group members how to effectively discuss family planning with their community.
Develop a reward or recognition plan for the champions
- Put in place cost-effective, sustainable rewards to motivate champions to continue volunteering their time. Depending on your budget, this could include tablets, cameras, flash drives, or other items to help with their work as champions. You could also provide nicely printed information packages with targeted messages and tips on how to deliver those messages to their communities.
- Recognize family planning champions during various forums at the community level such as World AIDS Day, World Contraception Day or International Women’s Day.
- Include active champions in various national and international meetings and trainings. You may invite them to deliver a keynote address or to participate in a discussion forum.
Follow-up and monitor advocacy efforts
- Maintain and manage a list of identified champions in your community (executive, political leaders, administrators and religious leaders).
- Track capacity-building efforts among champions on accurate family planning messages.
- After you develop an action plan, hold routine meetings with champions to monitor progress and track their relevant activities.
- Track the number of events (community events, religious meetings, etc.) in which family planning messages were included.
Keep in Mind
Keep in mind the following costs of working with family planning champions:
- Training and orientation of family planning champions at different levels
- Provision of information packages and promotional materials to champions
- Follow-up meetings with the selected champions
- Prizes and incentives, as needed
What Is the Evidence?
Evidence has shown that engaging champions from a broad range of backgrounds and sectors can help advocacy efforts.
- In Kenya, champions helped ensure that family planning was incorporated into the annual work plans for the county and sub-county levels. They also helped spread news about government family planning policies throughout the community.
- Also in Kenya and Nigeria, champions worked with Muslim women leaders to dispel myths about family planning and with imams to teach their congregations about the importance of family planning. The champions also helped by organizing forums at religious congregations and by using churches to host family planning outreach camps.
- Women in Nigeria whose clerics extol the benefits of family planning were significantly more likely to adopt modern contraceptive methods, a research study from 2018 suggests, highlighting the importance of engaging religious leaders.
- In Senegal, the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative worked with religious leaders to train community-based religious mediators and health educators to promote the benefits of family planning. These advocates visited more than 14,000 households and met with over 21,000 women and men.
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Question 1 of 5
Family planning champions can include:
Question 2 of 5
It is important to target messages differently for each community group. Religious leaders may need more information about myths and misconceptions, while community health workers may need more technical information, for example.
Question 3 of 5
In Senegal, the Urban Reproductive Health Initiative worked with religious leaders to train community-based religious mediators and health educators to promote the benefits of family planning. These advocates visited more than 14,000 households and met with over 21,000 women and men.
Question 4 of 5
How useful did you find the information and/or tools presented on this page? Please write your response in the box below using one of the following phrases: Very useful, Useful, Somewhat useful, Not useful.
Feel free to comment on why you made that choice.
This response will be awarded full points automatically, but it can be reviewed and adjusted after submission.
Question 5 of 5
How do you intend to use the information reviewed and/or tools that you accessed?
- Target messages differently for each community group. Religious leaders may need more information about myths and misconceptions, while community health workers may need more technical information.
- Champions come from diverse backgrounds and are meant to help the program achieve advocacy results at different levels. Having a clear advocacy strategy is essential to identify what kinds of champions will be most valuable and will likely contribute most to the advocacy objectives.
- Family planning clients can be important champions. When they share their positive experiences as users of family planning, they instill confidence in potential clients and can help nudge those who are undecided into becoming acceptors of family planning.
- Champions often have regular jobs or other responsibilities and thus may not always have your family planning objectives in mind. To ensure they become active family planning champions, you will need to orient and train them on family planning advocacy.
- You may find that some champions do not participate regularly. Maintain a follow-up mechanism to replace any champions who are inactive and to motivate those who are active.
- Religious leaders from different faiths may have different views on which contraceptive methods to support. Holding advocacy forums can help ensure that religious leaders reach consensus and find a common voice.