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Today, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) were invited for a one-day workshop in Tamale focusing on how to utilize the UN Mechanism and use Social Behaviour Community Change (SBCC) for advocacy on SRHR.
Improved advocacy and a higher degree of inclusion of civil society in decision-making processes are paramount in order to change policies on SRHR in Ghana. This is the core message made by Human Rights Advocacy Centre (HRAC) and Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health (GCNH) in the second phase of the project running from 2015-2017. The workshop was facilitated by HRAC together with GCNH, and brought together 22 participants representing CSOs from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions working with SRHR. The workshop was part of the project: “Improve civil society advocacy and inclusion in sexual and reproductive health rights decision in making processes in Ghana” and was one amongst two other workshops, which will be conducted in Accra on the 25th and Kumasi on the 27th of October. The aim is to present tools for advocacy, which can be of use to CSOs in their effort to be heard and included in decision-making processes in relation to SRHR.
Ghana Coalition of NGOs in Health: “What is advocacy and SBCC?”
GCNH’s representatives made presentations on: 1) definitions of ‘advocacy’ and how to work with advocacy; and 2) on Social Behaviour Community Change, as a diverse communication tool to achieve change and raise awareness in communities.
The participants where invited to share experiences and definitions of advocacy. GCNH asked the Civil Society representatives: how would you describe the way you use advocacy as part of your work? One participant replied: “We build the capacity at the lowest level, so people can claim their rights. And also, we help people to understand the rules of law, so they can demand the service they are entitled to”. There are many ways to understand the concept of advocacy, but as both GCNH and the participants agreed, it can be boiled down to working on influencing decision makers and thus policies to focus on and improve an issue at hand. As an extension of the discussions on advocacy, GCNH turned to SBCC. SBCC describes in short a way to communicate to communities in alternative and diverse ways, in order to reach more people and create awareness. The aim is to create behavioural change at several levels, which will improve the actual implementation of a certain project.
Human Rights Advocacy Centre: CSOs can utilize the UN Mechanism for advocacy
HRAC made a presentation on the United Nations (UNs) Universal Periodic Review (UPR) as a way for civil society to influence political priorities on a higher level. As each country (member states of the UN) is reviewed based on information provided by both the respective state, human rights experts and civil society, this process provides an opening for civil society to engage on a higher political level. Discussions and a smaller exercise during the workshop pointed to the fact that civil society needs to target governments and development partners (DPs), who share similar political priorities. Further, HRAC’s Technical Advisor, Ms. Abbey, emphasised that civil societies role in this process is to highlight issues and the general human rights situation that often is ignored by their governments.
With active participation and inputs by the gathered representatives from CSOs, the workshop came to a close. The different approaches to advocacy and advocacy tools presented by HRAC and GCNH will hopefully inform and aid the CSOs in future work on influencing decision-makers to improve SRHR in Ghana’s Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions.