Making Change Through Advocacy: COMPASS Africa Reverse Co-del

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The Reverse Co-del is our signature advocacy tool—a flip on the concept of congressional delegations abroad, in which members of Congress visit countries and learn about development and U.S. foreign assistance. The Reverse Co-del brings advocates from the Global South to Washington, D.C. to educate Congress.

In April 2019, CHANGE hosted the Coalition to build Momentum, Power, Activism, Strategy, and Solidarity in Africa (COMPASS) Africa Reverse Co-del in Washington, D.C. Experts and advocates from Malawi, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe met with policymakers, advocates, and the press to spread their message: U.S. funding and evidence-based policies are vital to achieving gender equality and SRHR for all.

Achievements of the COMPASS Africa Reverse Co-del:

  • Developing advocacy and communications skills: Advocates participated in professional training sessions in communications and advocacy that prepared them to shape and prioritize their messages as well as to come up with a plan to facilitate educational meetings with Congressional offices and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department officials.

  • Educating policymakers: Advocates met with Congressional representatives and State Department officials from President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief PEPFAR and shared their experience and expertise on the importance of U.S. support for sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) in HIV prevention programs for adolescent girls and young women. As a direct result of these meetings, US officials in Washington helped connect the advocates with the PEPFAR coordinators in their respective countries to meet with them when they return home.

  • Building relationships, sharing expertise: Advocates exchanged experiences and expertise with advocacy counterparts in D.C., including Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington and Whitman-Walker Health, and participated in an HIV Prevention Roundtable discussion at CHANGE’s offices with partners from the D.C.-based community of experts on integrating HIV prevention into SRHR programs.

  • Influencing public opinion: Equipped with media savvy tips and messages from CHANGE’s communications training, the advocates spoke at a press briefing hosted by CHANGE with top-tier media outlets, including Reuters and PBS. The media briefing resulted in a TV segment on PBS. Delegates also participated in an episode of the podcast series rePROs Fight Back.

  • Celebrating the advocates: CHANGE hosted a reception to welcome the advocates and educate friends of CHANGE about SRHR and HIV prevention and the advocates’ work in their respective countries. Fifty people attended the event at CHANGE’s office in D.C.

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