Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is implementing Empowering Evidence-Driven Advocacy (EEDA), a three-year project (2017-2020) supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The project’s goals are to improve the 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, such as at the 2017 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. EEDA will build on existing advocacy communities that support increased FP access for youth by offering young people themselves the opportunity to lead substantive policy research and drive accountability for commitments that affect youth.

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.

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 the 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 them.

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. In the first year, assessments are underway in Kenya, Burkina Faso, and Ethiopia. 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

The Family Planning Advocacy Resource Hub, a component of the EEDA project, will equip advocates with the ability to fluently integrate data and evidence into outreach products that are compelling to decisionmakers. Advocates are targeting an expanding range of decisionmakers, such as FP policy and funding authorities at subnational levels, and broadening the reach of FP messages beyond traditional allies in the health sector. These efforts generate demand for diversified communications messages and tools that respond to new audiences’ priorities. While advocates welcome the increasing frequency and geographic specificity of available data, they face limitations of time, resources, and technical know-how to integrate this data into compelling communications materials.

Through the Resource Hub mechanism, PRB offers support to organizations based on their advocacy needs, goals, and existing capacity, and develops customized communications materials that align with partner organizations’ priorities for evidence-based family planning messages.

The suite of materials offered includes short videos, data visualizations, infographics, policy briefs, and print products such as pamphlets and brochures. Previous communications materials are available on the Resource Hub website.

PRB accepts applications biannually from partners interested in Resource Hub support. Interested organizations must be based in a low or lower-middle income country and have an established record of advocacy or policy work and outcomes. At least 25 percent of the organization’s existing advocacy work must be related to family planning and/or reproductive health. Materials can be produced in English or French. PRB covers all production costs and will turn over completed products to partner organizations for their ongoing use. PRB does not provide direct funding to partner organizations.

Youth Family Planning Policy Scorecard

As part of the EEDA project, PRB will maintain our Youth Family Planning Policy Scorecard, which analyzes the policy environment of 16 countries across eight indicators proven to increase youth access to and use of contraception. As additional policies become available in these 16 countries, the scorecard will be updated to reflect these evolving policy environments. Additionally, a digital version of the scorecard, to be launched in spring 2018, will allow users to easily search and compare across countries and indicators.

[1]  Family Planning 2020, “Momentum at the Midpoint: 2015-2016 Progress Report,” 2016, accessed at http://ec2-54-210-230-186.compute-1.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-10-20_DONOR_TELE-BRIEFING_MASTER_FINAL.pdf, Jan. 17, 2018.