Turkey Case Study

Publication date: 2000

Turkey Case Study Background This case study (based on Cardenas and Richiedei, 2000) describes how KIDOG—Kadin Icin Destek Olusturma Grubu or the Advocacy Network for Women—became involved in CS advocacy and how, through that effort, it evolved into a government partner. As of the mid-1990s, Turkey had promulgated progressive FP/RH policies, although key stakeholders were concerned that government support had been sporadic and inconsistent, that a supportive policy framework did not always translate into concrete and sustainable programs and funding, and that FP/RH policy processes had been relatively closed to the meaningful participation of nongovernmental actors. In addition, collaboration between government and civil society in Turkey had been limited. Policymakers viewed NGOs as unorganized, technically weak, and ill-informed about policy matters, while NGOs perceived public sector officials as bureaucratic and out of touch with the people. For decades, Turkey’s Family Planning Program relied on USAID contraceptive donations, but USAID was phasing out its donor program. In response, USAID/Turkey and POLICY saw the need to develop a FP/RH advocacy network that would help ensure continuation of Turkey’s FP/RH gains. Both USAID/Turkey and POLICY recognized that competition and lack of communication among Turkish NGOs would undercut those gains. Development and Launch of the Network After ascertaining that several NGOs were interested in organizing and becoming policy advocates, POLICY served as a catalyst in the creation of Turkey’s first NGO advocacy network, KIDOG. In March 1996, representatives of 11 respected and successful NGOs representing family planning, women’s health, human rights, women’s legal rights, and education came together during a workshop to identify techniques for networking and articulating the steps needed for designing and implementing an advocacy campaign and strategy. The NGO representatives defined the network’s mission as conducting activities to raise the status of women in Turkey. The NGO Forum held during the UN Habitat II Conference provided KIDOG with its first and immediate opportunity to initiate advocacy efforts. KIDOG’s 11 member organizations worked collaboratively to attract the attention of policymakers. During the Forum, KIDOG showcased its work on women’s issues through an exhibition booth, forums, and presentations. Members of the media covered KIDOG’s activities during Habitat II and thus publicized the network’s potential. At the start, KIDOG had 11 member organizations. By 1999, its total membership had grown to 20 NGOs. USAID-supported projects such as POLICY strengthened the advocacy skills of KIDOG members through a series of skills-building workshops on advocacy strategy, planning, and implementation. In 2002, KIDOG even translated POLICY’s Networking for Policy Change into Turkish in order to help strengthen the advocacy capabilities of local members and partners. By training other groups in advocacy, KIDOG members gained confidence in their technical skills and, as of 1996, designed and implemented various advocacy campaigns. Advocacy for Contraceptive Security KIDOG’s most successful venture into advocacy came about as an extension of POLICY’s technical analysis of USAID’s plan for contraceptive phaseout by 2000, a plan that required Turkey to rely on its own resources to finance, procure, and target the distribution of contraceptive commodities. Without immediate and substantial funding, Turkey’s contraceptive supply was estimated to last only six months, resulting in potentially devastating effects for the government and, more important, for individuals. The projected shortfall would seriously set back the country’s progress in modern contraceptive use and signal the government’s inability to improve the reproductive health status of Turkish women, an objective to which the government committed itself as a signatory to the ICPD Programme of Action. On an individual level, women and couples, particularly the poor and underserved, would have to use less effective methods of contraception or even go without contraception, which could lead to increases in unintended pregnancies and births, an increase in illness among mothers and infants, or even death. While POLICY assisted the MOH in both assessing the implications of the phaseout and forecasting the government’s commodity and funding requirements, for various reasons—including lack of political will, the MOH’s limited technical expertise, a perceived shortfall of financial resources, and the absence of pressure from outside forces—efforts to mobilize the appropriate government agencies to allocate sufficient funds for contraceptives were not successful. Once KIDOG adopted contraceptive self-reliance as its advocacy issue, however, KIDOG members spent significant time with POLICY staff to understand the status of self-reliance initiatives in Turkey. KIDOG members then designed a two-pronged advocacy campaign to reach policymakers and generate media attention. Network members targeted policymakers and called for immediate government budget support and procurement of contraceptive commodities for the public sector. The campaign yielded favorable media coverage that, together with members’ formal and informal contacts, paved the way for a meeting between KIDOG leaders and then-President Demirel. As a result of the meeting, President Demirel ordered the MOH to mobilize funds for government procurement of contraceptives (see below for the letter sent to KIDOG by the President’s General Secretariat to confirm support for contraceptive funding). KIDOG’s advocacy contributed to the allocation of resources from MOH special funds and the purchase of contraceptive supplies required for 1998. A follow-up KIDOG campaign focused on stimulating consumer demand for high-quality FP/RH services and encouraging decisionmakers to respond. KIDOG became involved in an array of awareness-raising and advocacy activities targeted to clients, service providers, and policymakers at several clinics in Istanbul. The activities were intended to foster client demand for high-quality treatment and services; to spur collaboration with policymakers, service providers, and administrators to improve the quality of FP services; and to influence the Maternal and Child Health/Family Planning Office of the MOH to operationalize quality of care through responsive protocols and regulations. A partnership between the MOH and KIDOG emerged as described by Dr. Rifat Köse, head of the General Directorate of Maternal and Child Health/Family Planning in the MOH: “We are collaborating and KIDOG is making my job easier.” Lessons Learned Through its successful CS advocacy campaign, KIDOG broke new ground and stimulated a new type of relationship between Turkey’s public and nongovernmental sectors. KIDOG has carved out a space for itself at the policy table and has contributed to significant changes in the FP/RH policy arena. Collaboration with key policymakers has led to acceptance of civil society as an important stakeholder and a valuable partner in strengthening, not undermining, the policy process. The challenge facing KIDOG and all advocacy networks is to sustain early efforts and successes while overcoming barriers posed by financial constraints, changing policy players, and competing loyalties. Official Letter Written by the General Secretary for the President of the Government of Turkey Authorizing Action for Contraceptive Security [image: image1.jpg]

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