Rights-based and non-stigmatising messaging for SRHR advocacy

Written by Katie Northcott, AmplifyChange

Communications is a fundamental part of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) advocacy.

Strong communications play an important role across all the AmplifyChange outcome areas.

Strong communications:

  • Highlights the importance of human rights in sexual and reproductive health
  • Improves access to services and information by increasing knowledge and ensuring information provided is based on facts
  • Contributes to social norm change by communicating messages that highlight the importance of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues
  • Helps to change policies and laws by showing concrete actions, information, and reasons why it is crucial to update laws or policies.

Strong communications are vital to build better, more resilient movements for SRHR.

You must ensure that the content you develop for your advocacy campaign does not have the unintended consequence of creating more stigma for your topic.

This can happen by:

  • Misinforming or misleading people on the issue
  • Using similar language and images to those used by opponents to your cause
  • Making claims that cannot be backed up by facts and science
  • Creating a negative perception by using shocking images and descriptions
  • Using language that implies judgement or potentially victimises individuals.

The way you represent the issue/s influences how successfully you further your cause, so it is crucial that what you communicate will positively affect your advocacy campaign and the specific SRHR topic you are addressing.

These guides will support you to design your communication strategy for advocacy work that is centred in a human-rights based, non-stigmatising approach. Please use these guides as you need them – use all the sections or just those that are most relevant to your cause.

We recommend that you keep a copy of the 10-step checklist guide so that you can refer to it whenever you need.

Katie Northcott, AmplifyChange

Katie is a Technical Performance Manager at AmplifyChange. At her previous work at Population Institute, she conducted analysis for a wide-scale report on demographic vulnerability, as well as managed the organisation’s social media channels.

As a Community Health Peace Corps volunteer in Burkina Faso, she implemented youth sexual health programs and supported maternal health and family planning outreach services. She worked with non-profit organisations in the U.S. advocating for women’s rights in the fields of abortion access, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS.

Katie’s experience at these organisations included social media management, street campaigning, and crafting messaging for publications, as well as the development of advocacy and media toolkits. Katie has a MSc in Population and Development from London School of Economics and a BA in Economics, African Studies, and French from Northwestern University.