GLOBAL ADVOCACY Sustaining Partnerships, Promoting Commitment and Change “ At the end of the Nairobi conference, most of the participants packed their bags and went home. FCI packed their bags and went to work.” —DR. ANDREW ARKUTU, GHANA In 1987, FCI organized a global safe motherhood conference to focus on the anguish of women who suffer and die during pregnancy and childbirth in the developing world. Health experts, researchers, donors, development professionals, and policy makers outlined the horror of this silent public health disaster and urged concerted action to reduce it. It was clear that a problem this big and this important needed to be addressed by a partnership. The conference launched the Safe Motherhood Initiative and created the Safe Motherhood Inter-Agency Group (IAG), with FCI as Secretariat. Through 15 regional conferences and scores of illuminating publications, FCI and its partners put safe motherhood on the world’s agenda. As the IAG evolved into the 130-member Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health, FCI LIVING Obstetric Fistula and served on the transition team and in 2005 Inequities in Maternal Health became co-chair of the Partnership board. As organizing partner for Women Deliver in 2007, we again focused the world’s attention on the tragedy of deaths from pregnancy, and made the case that multiple sectors – health, rights, education, labor, gender equality, and others – must work together to save women’s lives. 2000 FCI launches the Skilled Care Initiative in Burkina Faso, Kenya, and Tanzania to improve maternal health services in rural districts. 2002 In Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, FCI inaugurates its “youth friendly services” initiative to improve reproductive health care for adolescents. 2004 Together with local partners in Mexico, FCI develops national guidelines for the treatment of victims of gender-based violence. 2001 In Latin America, FCI begins efforts to improve women’s health in indigenous communities, including training health workers to provide culturally sensitive care, and producing materials on safe motherhood, family violence, and family planning. 2003 FCI and the Safe Motherhood Inter-Agency Group organize a global meeting in Malaysia to examine the health impact of unsafe abortion.
FCI was a leading voice at key international events that raised the priority global leaders now give to sexual and reproductive health and rights. In Cairo, at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), we brought together groups of delegates and advocated for strong, progressive language on sexual and reproductive health; the majority of our proposed language was accepted in the final conference Programme of Action. We also advocated at the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and at the Countdown 2015 London gathering to mark the 10th anniversary of ICPD, and partnered successfully with other NGOs to press for reproductive health targets to be included in the Millennium Development Goals. We create compelling, attractive materials for policy makers – to help them better understand the complex policy issues central to women’s health. From pocket cards that helped Ministers of Health speak about the commitments made at ICPD, to a set of briefing cards that explained the links between the Millennium Development Goals and sexual and reproductive health, our materials play a key role in shaping opinion and policy. Our advocacy activities make the case that different sectors must collaborate to improve women’s health. FCI was one of the first NGOs to call for better links between sexual and reproductive health and efforts to prevent HIV. We seek better collaboration between the HIV and maternal health communities to protect the rights and health of HIV-positive pregnant women. We have seen tremendous strides in the past two decades in commitments made to maternal health and to universal access to reproductive health and rights. But much remains to be done to translate these promising words into action. 2005 FCI becomes the host organization for the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception. 2007 FCI is the organizing partner of Women Deliver, a major global conference bringing together 2,000 leaders from finance, education, health, media, and other sectors to galvanize action on maternal health. 2004 FCI begins training youth advocates and peer educators in the Dominican Republic and Mali to reach hundreds of young people with key reproductive health education. 2006 FCI and colleagues press for the inclusion of a target on reproductive health in the Millennium Development Goals; such a target is adopted by the UN in 2007.