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Influencing the post-2015 process: lessons learned from civil society

Credit: Rebecca Vassie | Girls Not Brides

The countdown to the post-2015 development framework has started. Earlier this year, governments officially entered negotiations to decide what the next global development priorities should be.

The post-2015 development framework will drive international attention, development programming and funding for the next 15 years. Together, Girls Not Brides members are making the case that the new framework must address child, early and forced marriage, a practice that affects 15 million girls a year and continues to hinder our progress towards a safer, fairer and more prosperous world.

But how can civil society organisations influence the post-2015 process?

Hira Anum, Communications Officer at AWAZ CDS Pakistan, and Felogene Anumo, Advocacy Programme Associate from FEMNET, share their lessons learned and offer top tips on how to advocate for a target to end child, early and forced marriage in the post-2015 development framework.

Top tips to engage in the post-2015 process:

  • Form partnerships with different groups nationwide, for example youth groups
  • Tailor your advocacy to your national context
  • Mobilise and encourage participation from the community level up

Read this Q&A for more tips and ideas.

How do you engage in the post-2015 development process?

FEMNET: We engage in the post-2015 process at the national, regional and global level:

  • At the global level we are a member of the UN Women’s Major Group, and the post-2015 women’s coalition. These groups are very important in allowing us to collaborate with other civil society organisations and stay abreast of global discussions on the next set of goals and targets.
  • At the regional level we convened a post-2015 women’s caucus for African women civil society organisations (CSO). The caucus has meetings before key events such as the Beijing review, and we provide input into a common position.
  • At the national level we are part of a CSO reference group in Kenya. We have also formed partnerships with organisations working in other areas, for example with youth groups. This means that our advocacy messages are passed to a wider group and are better received by the government.

AWAZ CDS: We have educated communities and mobilised them to advocate at the national level and engage the parliamentarians. We have also mobilised 40 civil society organisations who will in turn involve people from their communities in the post-2015 process.

We have carried out a number of events on post-2015. We held an action day in Multan in January where 600 young people, including school children, signed a youth charter. We’ve also held 60 community consultations in different provinces in Pakistan with a diverse group, including religious leaders, farmers and teachers. We also created a social media campaign which reached over 2,000 people – youth in particular.

What activities do you carry out to influence decision makers?

AWAZ CDS: We will write an open letter to the prime minister setting out our post-2015 demands. We are making recommendations to the government on ending child marriage, the inclusion of women’s empowerment and gender equality, along with access to sexual and reproductive health and rights for women in the new development framework.

How do you work in partnership?

FEMNET: As members of the Women’s Major Group we get the opportunity to attend intergovernmental sessions in New York. We extend these opportunities to our members and partners, this in turn opens the door for advocacy and passes the messages on.

The reference group that we belong to in Kenya holds key meetings which allows for the sharing of information and joint messaging. We have also held several consultations which fed into a civil society position paper and policy paper on post-2015.

How did you find out who were the decision makers in your country?

FEMNET: We carried out a mapping at the national level and found out that the Ministry of Devolution and Planning has a unit focusing on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs heads negotiations, with input from the MDG unit. I would advise other organisations to find out which Ministry houses their MDG unit.

Moreover, find out if your country has held a national consultation on post-2015, if so, then there will be a report with the findings. Find out who was mandated with running the consultation and who was plugged into previous conversations, and talk with them.

It’s also important to link New York with the capital, as often positions from the capital aren’t communicated to New York. We have to make sure that the post-2015 demands that we make at the national level are taken to the negotiating tables in New York.

Hira: We’ve been involving the Federal and Provincial Ministries of Youth, Human Rights, Women’s Empowerment, Education, and Population in our different programs to achieve the goals of post-2015, and are looking forward to working with the Government of Pakistan for joint ventures in the future as well

What messages did you develop?

FEMNET: We found that it was important to make arguments based on national data, therefore we mapped out what Kenya has done at the national level. It’s also important to connect national activities with the global agenda and demonstrate that leadership at the global level can reinforce national action and progress.

We have also used champions to convey our messages, including the use of parliamentarians, who will also be important when it comes to implementation of the new agenda.

This Q&A is partially based on a Girls Not Brides webinar on “Using the Girls Not Brides Post-2015 Advocacy Toolkit to Achieve a Child Marriage Target”. You can download our post-2015 toolkit here, and listen to the webinar here.