The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is implementing Empowering Evidence-Driven Advocacy (EEDA), a new three-year project (2017-2020) supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goals of the project are to improve implementation of existing family planning (FP) policies, especially those that support youth access to and use of contraception, and to generate new funding and policy commitments for FP in response to evidence-driven advocacy.
The project aims to achieve these goals by improving governments’ accountability to advance implementation of policy commitments, increasing youth advocates’ capacity to measure policy implementation and hold governments accountable, and increasing decisionmakers’ use of evidence.
EEDA launches at an opportune moment for FP advocacy, as country governments increasingly formalize young people’s rights to sexual and reproductive health services—for example at the recent Family Planning Summit. The extent to which these policy commitments are implemented is the true measure of improvements in young people’s health and well-being. While many countries host robust advocacy communities that actively support increased FP access for youth, EEDA will offer young people the opportunity to lead substantive policy research and drive accountability for commitments that affect youth themselves.
EEDA: A Partnership With Youth Advocates
EEDA features a partnership between PRB and the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP), a collective of young individuals, youth associations, organizations, and communities working in 59 countries with a common mission to support provision of and access to comprehensive reproductive health care services. PRB and IYAFP will collaborate to build youth advocates’ capacity to hold decisionmakers accountable for policy implementation.
Young people’s ability to freely determine their reproductive lives greatly affects their livelihood and that of their future families. Cumulatively, young people’s rights and choices will drive the achievement of national and global development agendas, including those of Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) and the Sustainable Development Goals. But in 26 of 40 FP2020 focus countries, more than one-fifth of young women ages 15 to 19 have an unmet need for contraception.1
Country governments have recognized and responded to this problem by formalizing young people’s rights to access sexual and reproductive health services, including FP. Recent analysis by PRB shows that of 16 priority countries, all but three have a strong policy environment for at least one intervention proven to increase youth access to and use of contraception. Even as efforts to strengthen governments’ policy environments continue, the extent to which these commitments are implemented is the true measure of improvements in young people’s health and well-being.
Yet young people are not only beneficiaries—they increasingly shape their countries’ policy and program landscapes. As they become policy and advocacy influencers, they will play a key role in determining achievement of these goals. Together, PRB and IYAFP will assess the implementation of youth-friendly FP services in six countries and collaborate to build youth advocates’ capacity to hold decisionmakers accountable for policy implementation. While many countries host robust advocacy communities that actively support increased FP access for youth, EEDA will offer young people the opportunity to lead substantive policy research and drive accountability for commitments that affect youth themselves.
PRB and IYAFP will co-lead implementation assessments in three countries annually for the first two years of the project, drawing fresh ideas from youth advocates’ experiences as citizen activists. This partnership will both improve the reach of the research and provide a laboratory to test and demonstrate youth advocates’ capability to document policy gaps and hold governments accountable.
EEDA Resource Hub
One component of the EEDA project, the Family Planning Advocacy Resource Hub, will equip advocates to fluently integrate data and evidence into outreach products that are compelling to decisionmakers. PRB will administer this resource to develop tailored, evidence-based communications materials in support of partners’ diverse FP advocacy objectives, including the demographic dividend.
1. Family Planning 2020, Momentum at the Midpoint: 2015-2016 Progress Report, FP2020 (2016).