Building momentum for Life Skills education in Ethiopia

Ensuring that young people have access to comprehensive information on health, personal well-being, and life skills is central to supporting their decision-making as they move into adulthood. Learn how Development Expertise Center (DEC) supported the movement towards improved Life Skills education in the Ethiopian school system.

In September 2022, the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia announced that the new ‘Education, Health and Wellbeing’ (EHW) curriculum was to be implemented nationwide from first to eighth grade, effective from 19th September 2022. The curriculum was developed by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with other stakeholders, including the Ministry of Health and civil society organisations. The new health curriculum is part of Ethiopia’s broader education reform agenda, which aims to improve the quality of education to ensure that students are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to make healthy choices throughout their lives in a rapidly changing world. The EHW curriculum includes both academic and life skills education, with an emphasis on age-appropriate information, including topics like communication and self-awareness to help them make informed decisions about their health and relationships.

A female nurse is sitting behind a desk in a white coat. There are posters and documents stuck to the wall behind her. She is facing two young women whose backs are to the camera. The two women are looking at a diagram of different contraception options.

Since 2010, Development Expertise Center (DEC) has been working to empower young people to improve their own sexual and reproductive health and rights. DEC, an Addis Ababa-based civil society organisation and AmplifyChange Network grantee partner, played an important role in ensuring that conversations about Life Skills were included within the final EHW curriculum.

With their AmplifyChange Network grant funding, DEC provided life skills education in school environments and used the results and impact of their education sessions as evidence for their advocacy work. This included working with government officials to ensure that contextualized, age- and culturally appropriate sexual and reproductive health (SRH) topics, such as contraception and HIV prevention, were included within the new EHW curriculum. Additionally, DEC trained government departments on SRH education to allow them to fully understand the positive benefits of age-appropriate and context-specific Life Skills education on adolescents within their country. One of their key approaches to advocating at government level was sharing success stories and tangible research about the impact of Life Skills education. Through sharing these stories and outcomes in different forums, the positive changes of young people who had attended life skills sessions were heard and seen at decision-making level.

A boy wearing a white shirt and plaid waistcoat is standing in the aisle of a school library. He is standing in front of a shelf of books. He is reading a book and wearing a blue medical mask on his face.

Additionally, as part of their AmplifyChange project, DEC formed the Able Generation for Empowerment (AGE) coalition. AGE campaigned for inclusion of SRH education in the Ethiopian school curriculum at all levels through evidence-based advocacy and lobbying of the Ethiopian Federal government through the Ministry of Education. The coalition enhanced collaboration and coordination of the broader SRHR movement and representatives of the coalition ran trainings for government officials, providing technical advice on curriculum development.

The coalition also engaged large volumes of parents and caregivers, buidling not only awareness but understanding and consensus on the importance of the provision of life skills education for their young people. The AGE coalition meaningfully contributed to the development of the lobbying and advocacy communication strategy and organised national level advocacy forums to include aspects of Life Skills education within the curriculum.

The implementation of the new EHW curriculum is still ongoing, and it will take time to see the full impact of these changes. However, this curriculum is an important step towards providing a more comprehensive and holistic education for Ethiopian students. It is expected to contribute to improved health and wellbeing outcomes for young people across the country. Having already contributed to such positive educational policy changes, DEC hope to see their impact sustained, as more students will now have access to Life Skills education as a result of the rollout of a national curriculum change.

Learn more about AmplifyChange’s Life Skills and Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) portfolio by reading our Impact analysis of our funding here.

Check out the Summary Report from the 2021 ‘Talking About Life Skills, More Comprehensively’ virtual dialogue here

Learn how Troupe des personnes Handicapés Twuzuzanye (THT) in Rwanda are advocating for improved policy and law reform on disability and SRHR.

Globally, persons with disabilities, particularly women and girls, face substantial barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Discrimination, stigma, and negative cultural beliefs about persons with disabilities and their sexuality means individuals struggle to access information. A lack of inclusive resources, infrastructure, materials, and training for healthcare staff on the needs of persons with disabilities act as barriers to access services. Disability is often left out of national policy and law, making implementation of these laws to meet the needs of persons with disabilities more challenging.

However, AmplifyChange grantee partners are working tirelessly to change this situation in their contexts.

Troupe des personnes Handicapés Twuzuzanye (THT), a Strengthening grantee partner, is a self-led organisation for persons with disabilities founded in 2004 and registered in 2009 in Rwanda. Its mission is to advocate for disability rights through socio-cultural activities and community-based behaviour change. THT is one of the eight organizations that came together in 2010 to create the umbrella organisation National Union of Disabilities’ Organisations of Rwanda (NUDOR). THT work at the intersection of the SRHR and disability rights movements, making them well placed to advocate for change in these sectors.

After three years of campaigning, THT and their coalition partners successfully mainstreamed disability access and rights into the National Family Planning Guidelines and Standards for Rwanda. THT was a member of the national family planning and SRHR technical working groups who provided technical assistance in the development of the National Family Planning Guidelines and Standards. The working groups brought together UN agencies, government agencies, civil society, and professional bodies. The success of integrating disability, including tailored measures, into the family planning guidelines is a milestone for ensuring access to inclusive SRHR services for all in Rwanda.

The guidelines, published March 2022, led to a notable shift in SRHR service providers’ awareness and desire to become more inclusive in their work, such as an increase in requests for training on sign language. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that service providers have adequate skills to effectively implement the new guidelines.

To facilitate this work, through their AmplifyChange project, THT has

  • trained more than 129 healthcare staff from four districts on topics including Disability Equality Training, the legal framework for the rights of persons with disabilities, the realities of accessing SRHR services from the perspective of a person with disability, and an introduction to sign language. THT have been contacted by two other districts to do the same trainings;
  • monitored an improvement in service provision for persons with disabilities and an increased commitment to disability mainstreaming in more than 20 health centres since 2019; and
  • reviewed the availability and content of partner health centres’ action plans for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, with most health centres at both district and national level including provisions to improve access to services for persons with disabilities.

National-level advocacy to improve standards and guidelines for SRHR care for persons with disabilities is ongoing. THT resumed their participation in national family planning and SRHR working groups and pushed for follow-up meetings after the family planning guidelines and standards were adopted.

To date, there are further successes in mainstreaming disability rights into the revision process for a number of government policies and guidelines. THT and their partners are involved in the development of these guidelines as members of technical working groups for adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) and family planning at the national level:

  • The ASRH guidelines are under development and are inclusive of persons with disabilities.
  • The revision process for the 2018-2024 Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) policy has started. THT will advocate to ensure that disability is mainstreamed throughout this policy and include objectives around improving access to SRHR services.
  • The law protecting persons with disabilities is under review, with THT participating in the process. Notably, the section on health is aiming to integrate disaggregated data by types of disabilities using the Washington Group Short Set of Questions. Disaggregated data will be an important leverage for advocacy campaigns led by the THT and their coalition.

THT demonstrate how intersectional movement building and partnerships can result in incredible successes. By ensuring that persons with disabilities and their needs are included in government policies, civil society organisations and their partners can achieve further advocacy, implementation, and training. In mainstreaming disability rights into SRHR policy and law, better SRHR service provision and social norm change around disability and sexuality can follow. These improvements will better the livelihoods of persons with disabilities across Rwanda.

AmplifyChange founding member Hon. Safia Nalule Juuko speaks about the importance of ensuring SRHR for women and girls with disabilities in this blog.

Read more in our How To guides about improving access to SRHR for persons with disabilities on AmplifyChange Learn.

AmplifyChange Chair of the Board of Directors, Narmeen Hamid; Founding Member and Board member, Sara Seims; and Graduate Student at New York University, Hayley Lynn Herzog, discuss how we can prioritise the decolonisation and localisation agenda in global health and international development. This blog is an abridged version of a full article, which you can download at the link below.

Movements such as Black Lives Matter have inspired and energised efforts to improve social justice and address racial inequities.  The field of global health – the term used to define efforts of rich nations to improve the health status of low income countries (LICs) – is currently facing the challenge of how to embrace these principles.  Historically, global health priorities and agendas have largely been determined by institutions based in or shaped by the Global North, with considerable variability in how much involvement the Global South has been invited to have.

The tenets of global health are rooted in colonial tropical medicine, an approach that was formulated during the peak of European colonisation. The goals at the time were primarily to protect the colonisers from the perils of tropical diseases. Little was done to understand and serve the health needs of local populations. This led to inequities being baked into the public health infrastructure in LICs.

This structured power imbalance has energised efforts to decolonise global health. The movement toward decolonisation, sometimes called localisation or shifting the power, is aimed at changing this status quo in which power, influence, resources, and policies that affect the health of LICs reside significantly in high income countries rather than in communities in the Global South where they belong. Decolonisation we hope will at least limit, if not eliminate, the situation where donor driven priorities control the agenda in the Global South.

How can we support and accelerate the progress?

The following pragmatic actions could make a difference in support of a decolonised and fairer set of relationships in global health and other development sectors for that matter.

  1. Express commitment to decolonisation and localisation publicly. Explicit commitments set alongside clear statements of what would be different, and by when, could give more credibility to vague statements of intent. 
  2. Turn commitment into action such as putting local experts in charge of teams that design, implement, and evaluate global health programs and remunerating them appropriately, and shifting the offices of organisations involved in global health as much as possible to the LICs.
  3. Raise more resources from the Global South. Initiatives from within the Global South to raise support from well-resourced individuals, philanthropies, and corporations in the Global South would go a long way to increasing local control of global health. This solution supports stronger local accountability of health providers and of those responsible for allocating resources for health.
  4. Make better use of civil society within the Global South. Civil society organisations (CSOs) can provide the political impetus for their governments to make rational and transparent decisions. Although CSOs cannot replace the role of governments, ideally they can complement and support state efforts.
  5. Recognise and be realistic about the limitations funding agencies have in fully implementing global health decolonisation. Addressing government funding policies to better fit the needs of the countries the funding is going to, supporting the priorities of the grantee, and involving a lighter oversight touch towards grantees will enable localisation and decolonisation more effectively in global health funding.
  6. Expedite technology transfer and strengthen scientific research capacities. Health research led by LIC institutions is more likely to reflect the priorities of the region, the LIC diaspora of scientists would have meaningful work to return to, and local populations would no longer always be at the back of the queue as far as their own health needs are concerned.
  7. Increase representation of experts from LICs on the boards of funding agencies. We believe that this absence impedes decolonisation efforts.
  8. Improve SRHR vocabulary itself to reflect the cultural complexities of these issues within the various geographies of the Global South. Decolonisation of aid must also include decolonisation of language .

We would like to see greater political awareness of and commitment to the actions needed to make decolonisation a reality. We hope that the decolonisation movement will lead to genuine representation at all levels of governance, advisory boards, and institutional arrangements for delivery by people with lived experience from countries on the issues of concern.  We believe that the actions and approaches outlined above will help speed the decolonisation process. It is not often that the right thing to do is also the most practical and impactful, but in the case of decolonisation, all of these goals can be reached and by so doing health for all will benefit.

Read the full article here

To mark #16Days of Activism against GBV, read how Socio Legal Information Centre (SLIC) and the Human Rights Law Network used maternal death audits to make the law work for pregnant women

Martha Sabar was 20 years old and pregnant. She lived and died in Odisha, India.

Martha came from a rural village, belonging to a marginalised tribal group. During her first trimester, her antenatal screening identified her as someone who would have a high risk pregnancy.

Throughout her pregnancy Martha experienced bleeding. She couldn’t move, remaining in bed. Despite being recognised as high risk, no health worker came to visit her.

Martha was eventually moved to a nearby government primary health centre, but they refused to provide her with treatment. Her family were forced to take to the District Headquarter Hospital. Rather than be transferred in an ambulance, her family had to take her on a public bus. A journey of 70 km.

Martha reached the District Headquarter Hospital at night where no medical officers were available to admit her. She was refused service in the morning on the grounds that she did not have the right identification papers – an Aadhaar card, issued to every pregnant woman to enable them to access free services in government facilities.

She sat outside on the road for 168 hours.

The family were forced to take her to a private clinic owned by the Obstetrics and Gynaecology specialist who worked in the government-run District Headquarter Hospital.

By the time Martha received medical attention, she had died.

The SLIC fact-finding team is sitting around Martha Sabar's family in a family courtyard. There are 4 women and 6 men.
The SLIC fact-finding team with the family of Martha Sabar

In 2016 with the support of AmplifyChange, SLIC started auditing the maternal deaths in ten states across India. SLIC audited 45 maternal deaths. These deaths were shocking and shed light on huge gaps in government health services – especially access to care and the quality of care for pregnant women and lactating mothers.

Some of the incidents were heart-wrenching for the SLIC team. They showed the gross negligence of health care providers in providing basic antenatal and post-natal care. All of these deaths highlighted the need to stop obstetric violence and abuse which has been normalized by health care providers in India, and no punitive action till date has been taken against obstetric violence.

Martha Sabar was one such case.  Martha and her family deserved justice for what happened to her. Left unchallenged, lessons cannot be learned from Martha’s case and the health system is left to repeat its failures.

The Government of India has introduced various schemes to reduce maternal mortality and infant mortality.  Numerous rights to treatment should have been provided to Martha Sabar including free ambulance service for transportation of expectant mothers, critical post-natal care, nutritional care as well as a cash benefits and hospital care. However, none of these were provided to Martha before she died.

Human Rights Law Network took the state to court on 27th October 2022. They successfully filed a petition in the Odisha High Court.

In making his judgement, the judge Justice Murladharan stated:

“There is a system in place that is designed to provide adequate care for pregnant women in each of these villages, and yet they are not properly administered. This is a direct violation of the basic fundamental right of a woman to survive pregnancy and childbirth. The government of India has created multiple schemes to help provide services that guarantee pregnant women that right. In this particular instance, there was a breakdown in the referral mechanisms which prevented antenatal care from being distributed, prevented the doctor from being able to understand his patient’s condition when she arrived, and a failure to get her to a hospital in time that could treat her in time. All of these resulted in a failure to avert a preventable maternal mortality, a violation of her right to survive pregnancy and child birth.”

The High Court directed the state to provide compensation to the family and take action against health workers and managers involved. Crucially, they also ordered that a maternal death audit is conducted for every maternal death moving forward to ensure that the cause of death is ascertained and institutional deaths are understood and prevented. 

The judgment, albeit late, brought the family of Martha Sabar some closure. It has also strengthened understanding of the gaps in the health system and the need for the state to strengthen reproductive rights. By ensuring that government, the judiciary, and society in general look at health care through a justice lens, SLIC and many other civil society organisations are helping to use the law for good and to strengthen health systems.

To learn more about how AmplifyChange grantee partners work to eliminate gender-based violence, check out our library of How-To Guides focusing on SGBV at AmplifyChange Learn.

Our Strategic Advisor in Pakistan, Neha Mankani, has been travelling to affected areas to offer her skills as a midwife. Neha explains how the floods are creating a crisis for sexual and reproductive health and rights and how local civil society groups are responding.

Rainfall equivalent to nearly 3 to 5 times the national 30-year average has covered up to one-third of Pakistan with water. The death toll is over 1500 and continues to go up, with 33 million people affected through displacement and loss of homes and property. (UN OCHA). While the rains have now stopped, rising temperatures and melting glaciers have further exacerbated the situation, with miles of lakes where villages used to be.

As the emergency continues and families move to makeshift shelters, we see a major SRHR crisis unfold – menstrual health challenges; health and safety issues linked to water and sanitation concerns, as up to 300 people use one makeshift latrine; a dramatic increase in maternal and neonatal mortalities and morbidities; and an increase in sexual violence.

Women and girls, particularly adolescent girls, are at additional risk, including the risk of child marriage and forms of sexual abuse and exploitation such as rape, harassment and trafficking. Marginalised people including people with disabilities are experiencing increased vulnerability due to disrupted access to essential services. Children and marginalised groups are vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation at aid distribution points.

One of the worst hit areas of Sindh has been Dadu district, which has been inundated with water from a lake, a river, and hill torrents. As a result, hundreds of villages in Dadu are now underwater. What was a ten minute road connecting two cities in the district is now a one hour boat ride.

Previous AmplifyChange grantee partner Sujag Sansar Organization (SSO) works in Dadu district and have been at the forefront of working with communities, especially in SRHR services and community mobilisation, during this time. As soon as the floods hit, SSO started a free boat service to rescue families from water logged areas. The organization has 30 anti-child marriage committees in the district that have been mobilised to stay in the sites where internally displaced persons (IDPs) have set up camps. The committees report any cases of sexual violence or transactional marriage that are taking place to SSO.

CEO of SSO, Mashooque Bhirmani, shares:

“What we are seeing in this disaster is what our previous experience has shown: that during natural disasters, when parents already find themselves financially vulnerable and struggling to meet basic needs of their families, we suddenly start seeing an increase in selling of minors into marriage.”

Forum for Dignity Initiatives (FDI), a previous AmplifyChange grantee partner, are providing menstruation and personal hygiene kits for girls and women in flood affected areas of Naseerabad and Jafferabad districts of Balochistan. Over 5,000 kits have been prepared and distributed by their team and volunteers. FDI is trying to work with the provincial disaster management authority to set up safe spaces for girls, women, transgender persons and persons with disabilities to seek psychosocial support. In addition, they are urging the health department of Balochistan for the provision of contraceptives in flood affected areas.

Shirakat-Partnership for Development are an AmplifyChange grantee partner that have been contributing to immediate flood relief in Nowshera, Rajanpur and Jafferabad. Their work includes provision of food staples and non-food items to displaced communities, as well as sourcing solar lights to improve safety at camps for vulnerable populations.

As part of my own work as a midwife and through Mama Baby Fund, we are making clean delivery kits for displaced women who are due to give birth in flood hit areas and holding large maternal and neonatal health camps in areas with major identified needs. Through these camps, we are providing pregnant women with check-ups, medicines and supplements, identifying complications, and teaching the use of delivery kits. I worked with SSO to provide maternal health services in Dadu.

On the day that I arrived at Dadu and connected with Mashooque, we heard of two maternal deaths in the community. The women who died had been rescued by boat, but could not reach health facilities on time due to infrastructural challenges. While I set up my maternal health camp, I watched Mashooque report a case of sexual violence at a camp we had just crossed. I asked him about the challenges he faces while doing this:

“The family of the perpetrator asked for him to be forgiven, but women are afraid to sleep in these camps. If we do not report, there will never be any accountability.”

We stayed with SSO for two days in the district, during which the community volunteers working with the organisation helped us locate and mobilise pregnant women and newborns requiring care. Over the course of two days, we provided reproductive and menstrual health products, maternal health services and clean delivery kits to over 250 women. We provided services to pregnant women due to give birth in the next few weeks, many of whom will deliver in tents, boats or makeshift clinics. We saw cases of reproductive tract and sexually transmitted infections. Women came to us with concerns about the interruption of family planning services and care. I have seen this trend in my work in reproductive health in crisis situations – the inability to get an implant or IUCD removed, or access a contraceptive pill or injection.

Asking about his next plans for the community, Mashooque shared that he plans to use theatre and music to provide health education and edutainment to flood-affected communities in IDP camps, particularly children and women, to dissipate fear and trauma and improve SRHR services.

The stigma surrounding sexual and reproductive health and rights means we may be slow to see how these basic human rights are impacted by environmental crisis. But what we are learning in Pakistan is that sexual and reproductive health and rights are vulnerable to a climate-change driven crisis like the floods in Pakistan. This can compromises basic human freedom, dignity and life anywhere.

Preview our new Organisational Strengthening Handbook

Building a strong, sustainable organisation is a bit like building a house; first you need to build solid foundations, on which everything else is built in order of importance.

To help organisations become stronger and more sustainable, we have developed a new step-by-step Building Blocks Handbook. The Handbook is aimed primarily at organisations who have, or are interested in, applying for an AmplifyChange Opportunity or Strengthening grant, but it can be used by any organisation that wants to be stronger and more sustainable.

The Handbook sets out the ‘building blocks’ of best practice and explains the sequence of when you should be building these elements into your organisation and how they will strengthen your work.

In our recently updated version, we have added a dedicated section about fundraising and resource mobilisation – a cornerstone for building organisational resilience and sustainability.

Click the link below to download the PDF of our Building Blocks Handbook.

Building Blocks Handbook, 2022

We are pleased to share with you AmplifyChange’s 2021 Annual Report – Breaking New Ground.

Over 2021, AmplifyChange went through a period of transition, moving from a consortium-led fund to an independent organisation. During this transition, we maintained our commitment to funding the most neglected SRHR issues in challenging contexts and explored new, more innovative ways to support civil society in the Global South. This report showcases the hard work of our team and strategic advisors who ensured a seamless transition for our grantee partners, as well as the strong support from our Board and Members as we moved forward into the new chapter of our organisation.

Throughout the report, you can read about the great work our grantee partners implemented over the past year. Despite a challenging environment for SRHR advocacy, civil society organisations across the Global South continued to advocate for improvements to SRHR access in their communities. Their work reached the most marginalised individuals and used diverse approaches to create change across countries and regions. Their stories are a source of inspiration for us all.

We hope you enjoy reflecting on the past year with us in this report. If you have any questions, please contact

Click the link below to download the PDF of our Annual Report.

Breaking New Ground: AmplifyChange Annual Report 2021

Today, on #MHDay, we want to highlight our commitment to menstrual health programming in the Global South by showcasing how advocacy contributes towards securing positive long-term changes in some of the most challenging legal and policy environments.

We have supported 79 menstrual health projects, through the investment of EUR 3.8 million across 27 countries.

#WeAreCommitted to continue funding menstrual health programming that works towards catalysing progress and sustaining impact, even after programmes have finished.

Click the link below to download the report.

Advocacy works. Period.
Our commitment to Menstrual Health

Today marks the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Whilst there have been many great advances in the enshrinement of LGBTI rights in laws, LGBTI communities still face serious threats to their safety and well-being and are still not fully recognised as citizens in many countries.

AmplifyChange is supporting civil society advocacy to improve the rights of LGBTI people and prevent gender-based violence in sub Saharan Africa and South Asia. Since 2018, we have awarded over £12m in grants to organisations addressing these issues.

In this short report, we explain more about our activities and share some examples of grantee projects to illustrate that gathering evidence, providing support to survivors, engaging with stakeholders and seeking to change legislation are crucial approaches to understanding and responding to this abuse of human rights.

Click the link below to download the report.

Our commitment to LGBTI rights

By Dr. Narmeen Hamid, Dr. Sara Seims and John Worley.

Photo: Women’s Health and Equal Rights Association Rwanda.

At the start of 2022, AmplifyChange embarks on a fresh chapter, as the original consortium* gives way to a new independent not for profit entity to support sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocates and with a new CEO, Grethe Petersen, at the helm. The next phase of AmplifyChange will continue to build on the impact, achievements and ethos of its work since it began operations in 2014. Much has been learnt since then in supporting SRHR advocates that provides a strong foundation for its future work and role within the global movement to strengthen SRHR. This moment of change offers a good opportunity to reflect on some of the achievements and lessons of AmplifyChange as it takes forward its next phase of work.

AmplifyChange set out at its inception to be a progressive and positive ‘disruptor’ within the global SRHR advocacy architecture, to offer the diverse range of advocates in the Global South more choice and a new way to support change, no matter their size or organisational affiliation. AmplifyChange sought to fill a major gap in support for SRHR advocates, and in doing so, to help build and strengthen the movement for SRHR and encourage and nurture new advocates to grow in capability and ambition. How did it do?

AmplifyChange: The first seven years

Through its consortium partners and networks of country based advisers, AmplifyChange took a proactive strategy to alert civil society groups and raise awareness of its role as a new mechanism to support SRHR advocacy. Whilst awarding grant support on a competitive basis, AmplifyChange also worked hard to ensure groups applying for funds had the tools and knowledge to increase prospects for success. Its ethos was and is to support applicants for grant funding succeed. And its range of grant types meant that even the smallest advocacy groups were able to secure support for community based initiatives often out of reach from more conventional donor funding arrangements.

For Madagascar, AmplifyChange is the first partner to really enable us to do what we want to do. I really appreciated how they valued the voice of a small grassroots organisation.
– Anonymous grantee –

As a result, within the seven year period of the first phase of its operations, AmplifyChange delivered over 40 funding rounds, processed more than 6,000 applications and provided over 950 grants in more than 60 countries. It channelled and disbursed more than EUR 100m in support of advocates working to empower communities to realise their SRHR.

Whilst focused on groups in the Global South, AmplifyChange supported a growing number of advocates who had never before been able to secure external funding for their advocacy work. To maximise prospects of success, advocates were connected with local and other experts in the region and beyond, able to offer support and mentoring based on the lived experience of their own SRHR advocacy experiences. Overall, nearly 90% of AmplifyChange grants have been directed to small advocacy groups, with other grants available to support them to form coalitions with other like-minded advocates. AmplifyChange has supported the development and growth of nearly 100 SRHR coalitions, of which some were new or nascent, across over 40 countries.

Photo: Nifin’ Akanga

Supporting and including community-led voices

With a philosophy and commitment to empower local decision making, AmplifyChange focused on outreach and partnerships with local advocacy groups, provided explicit support for strengthening capability and resilience, and adopted a light touch in its approach and procedures to minimise the burden on grantees. It was – as of course it should be – advocates themselves who decided on their priorities and focus, how grant resources were to be allocated, and determined the metrics by which their work would be assessed and evaluated. In this spirit, AmplifyChange actively encouraged local advocacy groups to address the most sensitive SRHR issues, led by representatives of communities commonly the target of SRHR stigma and violence, or without access to essential services.

AmplifyChange adopted governance and decision-making arrangements to ensure that voices and expertise from the Global South guided and shaped its strategy, ways of working and learning agenda. The suggestions, feedback and circumstances of the groups it supported were instrumental in evolving the approach of AmplifyChange and in shifting the influence and agency in decision making more to where it should be. New grant and grantee consultative arrangements will help ensure that in its next phase of work, AmplifyChange will continue and strengthen its commitment to putting advocates at the centre of all that it does and in ensuring that it can effectively support and help connect the advocates best placed to lead and bring about change in the Global South. The grantee reference group will deepen and embed ways to achieve stronger mutual accountability and transparency, and further democratise power, in decision making as AmplifyChange takes forward its next phase of operations.

We joined the Grantee Reference Group because it is rare that funding groups actively create spaces which allow for free interactions amongst grantees and where the grantees have a full voice in deciding the agenda of the group. We hope to learn from best practices of other partners and understand the workings of AmplifyChange.
– Pravah –

AmplifyChange has been and will be driven by its core values of responsiveness, respect, transparency and innovation in what it does and how it works, guided and informed by the advocates it supports. It will continue to serve as a platform to amplify the voice of SRHR advocates and seek opportunities for ensuring advocates can occupy and influence policy arenas, highlight their lessons and experiences and make the case for change. In working to support positive change, AmplifyChange has contributed to and helped catalyse more than 30 significant improvements in SRHR policies, laws or budget allocations across 24 countries and within the SADC region. It will continue to build on, extend and defend these important gains.

Photo: India HIV AIDS Alliance

Beyond grantmaking

AmplifyChange has been more than a grant funding mechanism. It has invested considerable resources into knowledge and learning, fostering connections among the diverse range and geographies of SRHR advocates in order to share lessons and experiences and strengthen social movements for change. AmplifyChangeLearn provides a dedicated space for advocates to exchange ideas and offer insight into their strategies for advancing SRHR, serving as a platform for peer review and communities of practice on key themes and issues. It has been a vital resource for advocates through the Covid-19 pandemic, in supporting them to adapt and adjust their work in the face of the severe restrictions imposed on ‘normal’ ways of working. AmplifyChange will continue to build on its role as a platform to serve and support groups share their lessons and knowledge.

We are grateful to AmplifyChange for their flexibility in the organisational strengthening aspect of our grant, because we have been able to provide the needed infrastructure and our staff now work from home in response to COVID-19.
– Circuit Pointe –

AmplifyChange has evolved its scope, approach and ways of working extensively since its inception in response to the needs, concerns and circumstances of the civil society advocacy groups it supports. AmplifyChange well recognises the balance in power that shapes the relationship it has as a grant provider with the advocacy groups it supports. It has listened to advocacy partners concerning all aspects of its operations and supported advocates themselves to lead in determining their priorities and in how progress and change should best be considered. New Partnership grant arrangements are one example of how decision making in grant support and management will be devolved to groups on the ground across different countries and regions.

AmplifyChange has sought to foster partnerships based on trust and a commitment to provide more sustained and predictable support. It has been prepared to take risks in providing support to groups that had never previously been able to access any sort of funding for their advocacy work. This has been accompanied by intensive assistance to support groups put in place the sort of administrative and fiduciary procedures and capacity to successfully implement their plans, manage grants and also enhance prospects for seeking funding from other sources.

The [Opportunity] grant enabled us to get the organisation formally registered and become a legal entity. This in turn made it possible for us to open bank accounts and put in place basic structures, such as financial management systems. As a result, we are now in a position to seek and apply for funding from a wide range of donors. Furthermore, with the support from AmplifyChange, we have been able to hire more permanent staff, creating a better working environment for our team.
– Youth Network for Community and Sustainable Development (YNCSD) –

What’s next?

In the relatively short period in which it has operated, AmplifyChange has made a strong contribution to building the SRHR advocacy movement across many countries. It has become the ‘go to’ source of support for many civil society SRHR advocates.

The next phase of AmplifyChange as an independent not-for-profit grant fund mechanism has a solid foundation on which to build, and a clear strategy to guide its future work. We are confident it will do so successfully, as it explores and strengthens ways to support SRHR advocates and ensure decision making supports local leadership, ownership and priorities.

The huge challenges to realising SRHR for all that remain in so many countries demand a response that AmplifyChange has provided and will continue to provide.

Read our Seven-year Impact Analysis to find out more about AmplifyChange’s impact since our inception in 2014.

* The original AmplifyChange consortium: MannionDaniels, Global Fund for Women and African Women’s Development Fund.