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Advocacy Benchmark Examples

AG1: There have been major events that have drawn media attention to breastfeeding issues

Example: In 2016, Brazil had organized four major events that drew extensive media attention throughout the year:

  1. The 2016 Lancet breastfeeding series (March)
  2. National Day of Breast Milk Donation (May),
  3. World Breastfeeding Week (August) and
  4. National Conference on Breastfeeding (November).

Score: Major Progress

Domain-Existence: Yes

Domain-Volume: Three or more major event have drawn national media coverage to breastfeeding at different times during the year.

AG2: There are high-level advocates (i.e. 'champions') or influential individuals who have taken on breastfeeding as a cause that they are promoting

Example: Alissa Milano, an- actress in the US, uses social media to promote breastfeeding. She calls herself “a breastfeeding advocate” and uses the hashtag #normalizebreastfeeding to tweet and post about breastfeeding issues on Facebook and Instagram. Milan is also vocal about breastfeeding on television shows and popular magazines.

Score: Minimal Progress

Domain-Existence: Yes

Domain-Volume: One individual publicly promoted breastfeeding more than three times in one year. To score as major progress, there would need to be three or more high level advocates, also publicly promoting breastfeeding at least three times in the same year.

AG3: There is a national advocacy strategy based on sound formative research.

Example: One NGO, Alive & Thrive, who has a strong presence in Bangladesh and Vietnam, developed advocacy strategies using an evidence-based approach, which drew on global and national evidence, stakeholder mapping, and opinion leader research to inform breastfeeding advocacy policy strategies. Experience demonstrates that an evidence-based advocacy program design is feasible and can contribute to policy and advocacy goals ranging from the adoption and strengthening of national laws to increasing investments in IYCF.

In Viet Nam, A&T had four prongs to their advocacy strategy based on their extensive research:

  • Develop and sustain partnerships,
  • Build a continuous evidence base,
  • Strategic Communication
  • Interpersonal and Group Communication.
To understand the quality of the implementation, they compared baseline data against data collected again three years into the strategy. They used Event Tracking to analyze and understand the causes of any shifts in the overall policy environment during the strategy’s timeframe.

To capture the impact of these strategies, additional evaluations were carried out, such as stakeholder interviews and content analysis of provincial nutrition plans in Viet Nam and media content analysis and stakeholder interviews in Bangladesh.

In 2012, Viet Nam’s National Assembly extended paid maternity leave from 4 to 6 months – and it passed with more than 90% of votes and in Bangladesh, there was a marked increase in in-depth and frequent IYCF news coverage.

Score: Major Progress

Domain-Existence: Yes

Domain-Quality: National advocacy strategies developed by A&T were based on sound formative research

Domain-Effective: Strategies were operational, i.e. they were implemented and generated support for breastfeeding protection, promotion and support.

AG4: A national cohesive network(s) of advocates exists to increase political and financial commitments to breastfeeding

Example: The Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI) is a registered, independent, nonprofit and national network of 57 organizations within the country working together to protect, promote and support breastfeeding and optimal infant feeding practices. Their founder and Central Coordinator is the highly visible and respected doctor, Arun Gupta. BPNI has representation on the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Coordination Committee and the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Steering Committee (both government bodies), the Working Group on Children's Right to Food, and the National Coordination Committee of Jan SwasthyaAbhiyan (People’s Health Movement). Their advocacy activities include:

  • media campaigns
  • parliamentary questions and direct advocacy with government ministries, newsletters, academic papers, magazine and newspaper articles
  • presentations nationally and internationally
  • an app for the public to report code violations

BPNI is a part of a global network, the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), an umbrella organization comprising advocacy groups working, “through programmes designed for increasing its outreach by building alliances, protecting people from baby food corporations’ misleading propaganda, advocating with governments to hold the baby food corporations accountable, providing technical and planning support to governments, campaigning, training and capacity building.”

Score: Major Progress

Domain-Existence: Yes, BPNI includes more than two advocate groups.

Domain-Coverage: BPNI has national coverage