CEO CORNER

Co-creating a Better Future for Women and Girls

We are in the midst of a historic moment. The power of protest and of unified global support for the rights of women and girls is unprecedented. For instance, governments in Asia and Africa pledged $1.5 billion to the Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) initiative, a global partnership supporting the right of women and girls to decide whether, when and how many children they want to have. And with SheDecides, governments, foundations and philanthropists committed more than $400 million to protect the reproductive and sexual health and rights of women and girls.

These commitments are as heartening as they are critical, especially as the U.S.’s longstanding global leadership on and funding for family planning is diminishing.

As vital as these global efforts are, let’s not forget the importance of the role of our local champions in the Global South. They are essential to building the infrastructure that will advance sustainable change for women and girls over the long term. That’s where PAI’s work with our network of partners around the world comes in. We’re guided by serving our partners’ needs and by being responsive to their demands for in-country visibility and advocacy.

It’s through our partners that we truth-test whether global commitments actually deliver what they’re supposed to both at the national level and within families and communities. We help ensure that local family planning champions are at the table in global convenings. We support them to have an effective voice where the opportunity might not otherwise have existed.

We also need to acknowledge and celebrate the financial investments that so many developing countries are making toward the long-term health and well-being of women and girls. They are the strongest indicators of a nation’s commitment to family planning, even when resources are scarce. These efforts show that governments understand that investments in women and girls are important in their own right—and help secure the future health and well-being of developing countries.

It’s all about co-investment. And co-creation. Together, we are co-creating a brighter, healthier future for all women and girls.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Ehlers signature

Suzanne Ehlers
President & CEO


The Power of Partnership

PAI’s Approach to Partnerships is Key to Achieving Funding and Policy Wins

In a world made more chaotic by the Trump-Pence administration’s global attacks on women’s reproductive rights, how is PAI able to help make progress happen throughout the world?

We have a sound strategy, outstanding programs and dedicated donors. However, the key ingredient is the partnerships we forge and nurture with local organizations and advocates around the world.

We currently work with 58 organizations in 23 nations that are striving to advance reproductive rights in their own countries. Together, we are building a global movement to put every woman in charge of her own reproductive health in order to change her life and transform her community.

While we do provide small grants to help partners achieve their advocacy objectives, the funding is actually one small piece of the pie. The other ways we support our network of local champions—many of them women—are by working with them to develop country-specific strategies, helping them understand how the policies of external donors affect their countries, offering research and analysis to support their strategies, providing communications and media training, bringing advocates’ experiences to a global stage, and more. In turn, we take what we learn from our partners and incorporate these lessons into our own work.

These partnerships are a critical element of the change-making model PAI uses to achieve the policy wins that can make a meaningful, lasting difference in the lives of the world’s most vulnerable women and girls. We believe that cultivating partnerships and empowering local advocates is the best long-term solution for helping struggling countries become less reliant on funding from other nations—this way, it won’t matter who is in power in the White House and Congress.

Our partners are leading the way. They include Dr. Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma, Vicky Okine and Lanoi Parmuat. Learn more about these amazing women below.


Partner Profiles

Local Champions Going the Distance

Dr. Lanoi Parmuat
Executive Director, Enai-Africa, Kenya

Dr. Lanoi Parmuat knows change is afoot. Parmuat is executive director of ENAI–Africa, a PAI grantee that advocates for women’s reproductive health and rights, among other objectives. She is leading the way to educate women, men and youth about the benefits of family planning; ensure that high quality health services are available; and advocate for policies that advance access to contraceptive information and services. “We are making a great impact at the grassroots level because we not only do advocacy on family planning,” Parmuat explained, “we do medical outreach at the household and community level, then link [families] with the health facilities.”

According to Parmuat, “milestone achievement” for ENAI last year was when the county government endorsed a multiyear roadmap and allocated 2 million Kenyan shillings to achieve its family planning goals. This initial allocation is on track to increase five-fold to 10 million Kenyan shillings in 2018.

PAI partnered with ENAI to develop\ the plan and establish a group to advise county health officials on family planning—an effort that is cultivating local ownership and leadership on family planning programs and policy. Parmuat now sees attitudes among pastoral women and youth changing. Perceptions about family planning are shifting. Slowly, women’s and girls’ reproductive rights are being elevated.


Vicky Okine
Executive Director, Alliance for Reproductive Health and Rights, Ghana

“How can we do better?” Vicky Okine thought. She longed to see improved health outcomes for women and children. More efficient management of reproductive health issues. Fewer HIV infections. And she wanted to see compelling, effective advocacy around all these challenges. As executive director of the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights in Ghana, Okine is finding solutions to her concerns by advocating for high-quality primary health care (PHC) systems that offer a complete range of services, including attention to women’s sexual and reproductive health. She’s part of a coalition of civil society health advocates from around the world—organized by PAI—that pushes for financing and policies to strengthen PHC so that everyone has access to health coverage.

“We need to get back to the basics so that people can access care without financial hardship,” said Okine, whose organization is one of just a few promoting PHC in the context of universal health coverage. She keeps pushing to make things better. And even when challenges arise, Okine stays focused. “It’s still possible to make a difference. Whenever I’m tired, I remember who I’m doing this for: the women, children and young people on whose behalf we work,” she said. “Change is slow, but we can’t give up.”


Dr. Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma
Co-Founder and Advocate, Copper Rose Zambia 

Dr. Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma’s commitment to reproductive rights began with a lack of sanitary pads. When she saw that one of her high school peers had to leave class because she didn’t have any, she started carrying pads to school every day in case other girls needed them. Later, while on the path to earning her medical degree, Kaoma and a friend formed Copper Rose Zambia, raising $300 to buy sanitary napkins for underprivileged girls outside of Lusaka. The name of their organization is a subtle charge for women and girls “to be appreciated,” Kaoma said, “because not unlike copper, the country’s chief export, women are a nonrenewable resource.”

Today, her organization focuses on educating women and girls about their sexual and reproductive health, menstrual hygiene, and maternal and child health; and promoting women’s economic empowerment as well as youth leadership. PAI currently supports Copper Rose on a project aimed at creating consistent policy around the age a young person can access sexual and reproductive health care services without a parent.

Among its successes, Copper Rose has reached more than 15,000 young women and girls with menstrual hygiene information and empowered nearly 100 youth to deliver comprehensive sexuality education training in their local community. Kaoma said she’s been pleasantly surprised to see how many young people are willing to help others, even in low-resource settings. “I’ve seen that poverty is not an excuse; we can all create changes in small, yet significant ways.” It’s that kind of impact on people’s lives that keeps Kaoma motivated. “The greatest inheritance I can ever leave on this world is my influence…knowing that my contribution has made a tangible difference makes me realize that it may be difficult, but it’s an unforgettable experience.”


Running for Reproductive Rights

Sarah Flocken needed an outlet. A way to channel her frustration. Her shock.

Her emotional state was fueled by the 2016 election and the revival and expansion of the Global Gag Rule. “Instead of punching through a wall or throwing a chair, I wanted to do something productive,” the California native and strategic communications consultant said.

So, she took to Facebook. She told her friends that she was out of ideas for how to feel useful. What could she do? Who could she donate to?

That’s when a former co-worker suggested contributing to PAI. After learning more about the organization, Flocken donated $25 to PAI, one of many gifts to organizations she made at the time. “I did a lot of Trump-rage donating,” she said.

“Reproductive justice and women’s rights have always been a big deal for me,” Flocken said, “so I’ve always looked for ways to support those efforts in the U.S. and around the world.”

She decided she would maximize her donation by taking a fun, creative approach she had used before to fundraise for other groups: For anyone who donated $25 to PAI through this campaign, Flocken would\ include one song of the donor’s choice on the playlist for her run in the 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Washington, DC, where she lived at the time.

Flocken shared her idea with PAI, and we designed a fundraising page for her that she promoted through social media and email. She was straightforward about PAI’s work with those who shared her support for women’s reproductive rights. “If you want to get your rage out at Trump over putting the Global Gag Rule back—and also torture me—this is your chance,” she said she told them.

For others, Flocken stressed how PAI’s efforts help improve women’s and children’s health and strengthen clinics worldwide. “People from all sides of the political spectrum were really receptive to it,” Flocken said. “It’s really hard to argue against improving the health of women and families.”

In the end, she raised $1,275 for PAI. Her playlist included everything from George Michael, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Tina Turner and Lynyrd Skynrd; to the Back Street Boys, Nickelback, Taylor Swift and a selection of songs from musical theatre, including “Hairspray” and “Avenue Q.”

That race day was unusually cold, with a whipping wind. Flocken didn’t clock her best time. “But the songs got me through,” she said. “And it was for a good cause.”

Recently, Sarah reaffirmed her commitment to reproductive rights by becoming a monthly donor to PAI.


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