Neha Mankani, Ritikaa Khunnah, and Beyonce Karungi sit in a row facing the audience, holding microphones.

News

Investing in local civil society organisations leads to positive SRHR outcomes

The launch of a new AmplifyChange report highlights the importance of directly funding local civil society groups to make concrete change in sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

A new AmplifyChange report, ‘Illuminating Impact: Insights and outcomes from grantee partners’, launched at an event co-hosted by Population Council and AmplifyChange on Thursday 21st September during the United Nations General Assembly. Bringing together a wide range of SRHR supporters, funders, grantee partners, and civil society activists, the event centred the importance of funding civil society, particularly community-based organisations, to make sustainable, positive change in SRHR.

A woman stood at a podium addressing a small crowd

Patricia Vaughan, Interim co-president and general counsel of Population Council, opened the evening by highlighting the importance of providing support and building evidence to address SRHR issues concerning the most marginalised communities across the world. Dr. Suzanne Petroni of Gender Equality Solutions, who led the report analysis, then introduced the report’s findings, including the key outcomes identified through the analysis – namely, that AmplifyChange grantee partners effectively

  • identify and meet the needs of marginalised and underserved individuals;
  • find ways to effectively expand awareness of and access to safe abortion;
  • use pleasure-based approaches to sex and sexuality to shift attitudes and behaviours;
  • employ gender transformative approaches, including male engagement; and
  • work across sectors and at all levels of society.

Importantly, she noted that not all grantee partners produce large scale changes, but their impact on individuals and small groups may be life-altering and even lifesaving, and is thus no less important.

Neha Mankani, Ritikaa Khunnah, and Beyonce Karungi
(from left to right) Neha Mankani, Ritikaa Khunnah, and Beyonce Karungi

To illustrate the excellent impact of civil society organisations, a panel of grantee partners shared their experiences working on SRHR issues in challenging contexts. Beyonce Karungi, Executive Director of Transgender Equality Uganda and Ritikaa Khunnah, CEO of Pravah in India, shared their experiences in a discussion moderated by AmplifyChange Strategic Advisor and Founder of MamaBaby Fund, Neha Mankani.

Setting the context of working in an increasingly challenging and hostile Ugandan environment, Beyonce explained how the broad umbrella of advocacy work allowed for her organisation to focus on social norm change and raising awareness of LGBTI issues with healthcare workers and law enforcement in rural areas. This in turn meant that while politically, advocacy was challenging, change could still be made amongst stakeholders who regularly interact with trans women and LGBTI individuals.

Ritikaa explained how Pravah’s approach to holistic youth engagement focuses on supporting both self-transformation, through building confidence and capacity of young people, and social transformation, by equipping youth leaders with the tools they needs to identify and make positive change in their communities.

Other key messages from the panel discussion included:

  • Bringing power back to communities requires gathering insight directly from the community. By centring the voices of the communities they work in, both Transgender Equality Uganda and Pravah ensure locally-led solutions to the most pressing issues in the areas they work in.
    • When the Ugandan anti-LGBTI bill was brought by the government, Transgender Equality Uganda continued to mobilise local activists to engage with Ministries of Health, Gender, and Education to ensure that health services and information dissemination, especially for HIV treatment, would continue to be provided.
    • Pravah works closely with their project fellows to identify their priorities for advocacy work, ensuring that their efforts aligned with the needs of the young people they were supporting.
  • Sustainability is crucial, but it goes beyond longer-term funding. While funding is always important, Beyonce and Ritikaa shared other ways that a movement can be sustainable:
    • Building and supporting local leaders
    • Supporting community-based research to develop relevant evidence for locally-led advocacy approaches
    • Forming local partnerships and coalitions
    • Supporting the mental health and wellbeing, and building the confidence of community-based activists and SRHR leaders, for healthier, more resilient, and more well-equipped advocates.

Grethe Petersen, CEO of AmplifyChange, closed the event, with a networking reception following. AmplifyChange extends its thanks to Population Council, Dr. Suzanne Petroni, Beyonce Karungi, Ritikaa Khunnah, and Neha Mankani.

A group of seven people of mixed genders stand together in a row. They are all smiling at the camera. They are in a conference room with white walls and screens behind them.
(from left to right) Grethe Petersen, AmplifyChange; Jimmy Wilford, SAYWHAT; Dr. Suzanne Petroni, Gender Equality Solutions; Beyonce Karungi, Transgender Equality Uganda; Ritikaa Khunnah, Pravah; Neha Mankani, AmplifyChange and MamaBaby Fund; Patricia Vaughan, Population Council

About the report

Overly nearly a decade of grant-making, AmplifyChange has been a partner to civil society advocates across 67 countries. While we know that our grantee partners are doing great work and making positive change in their communities, we are eager to understand the impact of the funding we give to date.

To do so, AmplifyChange commissioned an independent review led by Dr. Suzanne Petroni, analysing 58 grantee partner reports spanning 46 countries. The report, ‘Illuminating Impact: Insights and outcomes from grantee partners’, underlines three core findings:

  • Important changes toward the goal of universal access to SRHR can be achieved when donors support those organisations closest to, and often most knowledgeable about their respective local contexts.
  • Through its grants, AmplifyChange has enabled many dozens of community-based organisations (CBOs) to advance innovative work on otherwise neglected and controversial issues, and in contexts where it is the most challenging.
  • At both local levels and as an aggregate, grantee partners are making important contributions toward the achievement of universal access to SRHR, particularly for and in the most marginalised, remote, and otherwise underserved communities.
External link: Download the full report here. External link: Download the report highlights summary here.

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