Evidence of civil society involvement in developing family planning/reproductive health policies

Evidence exists in demonstrating the involvement at national and subnational levels of individuals and groups from civil society in developing family planning (FP)/reproductive health (RH) policies.  

Individuals and groups should be identified in advance and key informants interviewed using a standardized questionnaire or assessment tool that measures level of involvement as assisting or actively engaging in policy dialogue, planning, and/or advocacy. A third party review of project records, reports, action plans, newspaper articles and published statements and speeches is recommended.

Project records; quarterly reports; action plans; interviews with key informants; newspaper articles; published statements; speeches; meeting minutes.

This indicator can be used to identify the existence, types, and levels of civil society participation and advocacy in FP/RH policy development. A number of factors influence the planning and implementation of policy including the nature of the policy process, the actors involved in the process, and the context in which the policy is designed and must be implemented. The motivation, flow of information, and balance of power among civil society and public stakeholders influences policy development. In addition, involvement of civil society early in the process improves the likelihood of success. For example, civil society groups are well-suited to participate in much needed advocacy for policy issues, adapt policy strategies to reach under-served populations, and monitor program accountability.  

While policy formulation is being increasingly recognized as requiring a multisectoral approach, involvement of civil society groups may not continue during implementation.  This indicator does not extend beyond the policy development stage and additional indicators are needed to measure continued levels of civil society participation during the implementation phase.  Thus, an important follow-up indicator would be Evidence of civil society participation in monitoring the implementation of family planning/reproductive health policies.


National RH policies may affect subpopulations differently and women and girls constitute an especially vulnerable population if gender equality measures are not built into the policies and resulting initiatives and programs. Women and girls can face barriers to RH services and information that are intensified by cultural gender norms. Government and policy leaders need to include women and women’s groups as stakeholders in the policy development process, while making gender equality central to policy decisions, program design and implementation.   

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