Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society (MACS)
Millions of women, newborns, and children around the world die every year from preventable causes. National governments are responsible for ensuring that all people — especially the poor and vulnerable —have access to the high-quality health services that can prevent these needless deaths. But many governments have not kept their promises to improve women's and children's health.
A knowledgeable and empowered civil society—concerned citizens, health professionals, religious leaders, community organizations and advocates—can hold governments accountable for fulfilling their commitments. Through civil society alliances, citizens can speak with a united and coherent voice on the needs and priorities of their communities, and can partner with government to drive meaningful action.
From 2012 to 2015, Family Care International (FCI) led the Mobilizing Advocates from Civil Society (MACS) project in Burkina Faso and Kenya to bring together civil society organizations working in reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health (RMNCH) and to strengthen their capacity to advocate powerfully and effectively for health policies and programs that meet the needs of women and children.
Globally, FCI and partners:
- Advocated for civil society's engagement as an equal partner in global accountability processes of the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health and the independent Expert Review Group
- Helped shape transparent, inclusive national accountability processes, and country accountability frameworks that incorporate civil society perspectives
- Convened national RMNCH advocacy alliances, working across the continuum of care
In Kenya, the RMNCH Alliance:
- Developed relationships with key government decision-makers, who now view alliance members as experts and valuable partners in advancing RMNCH.
- Increased advocates' understanding of county-level decision-making processes and advocacy opportunities in the recently devolved political administrative system.
- Analyzed health budgets and worked with county officials to allocate more resources to RMNCH programs.
In Burkina Faso, the RMNCH Coalition:
- Influenced the proposed 2016 health budget by advocating for increased funding for emergency obstetric care.
- Increased engagement of government officials responsible for health budgeting by deepening their knowledge on RMNCH and the status of the national health budget.
- Contributed to strengthening democracy in Burkina Faso, during a time of profound political change, by establishing the important role of civil society in their country's decision-making processes.
In late 2015, programs and staff of Family Care International became part of MSH. The FCI Program of MSH continues to carry these strategies forward, working with country and community-based civil society partners to strengthen the capacity of advocates to hold their governments accountable for commitments to women's, children's, and adolescents' health.