THE EARTH TIMES
DECEMBER 25, 1995
Getting the message out
Reaching media, policy makers and donors with news from the grassroots
BY ASHALI VARMA
London –Getting the message across-to policymakers, donors, grass-roots organizations
and the media– is one of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s most crucial jobs. It is a sensitive task that requires considerable tact and careful planning. Information on controversial subjects like abortion, sex education and the role of population policies in development has to be credible, convincing and presented in a style that speaks to the skeptics.
According to Sunetra Puri, who leads IPPF’s information work, the activities of Family Planning Associations (FPAs) worldwide and the quality of their work “is our strength.” Puri, a native of India and 20 year IPPF veteran, said the Federation’s outreach work focuses on building public support for family planning and reproductive health.
The main vehicle is “Vision 2000,” IPPFs strategic plan, which was echoed in the action programs adopted at major UN conferences on population and women’s rights.
IPPF’s publications, which are published in English, French, Arabic and Spanish, arc geared to popularizing “Vision 2000,” Puri told The Earth Times. The Federation magazine Planned Parenthood Challenges and its annual report (which currently includes a special supplement on “Vision 2000,”) describe what FPAs are doing in various regions
to “overcome challenges,” said Puri. IPPF supplies media outlets with feature stories, translated into local languages, that describe grassroots efforts.
IPPF also uses special occasions, such as World Population Day, and major international conferences to promote its message. Puri said that although the media does not regard development as a “good story,” when reporters have an opportunity to speak with people
from local communities “there is a sense of understanding and excitement in getting to know what is happening at the grass-roots level.”
IPPF has also produced an advocacy guide that discusses strategic planning for advocacy at regional levels. Each member association sets its own agenda for “advocacy, for dealing with the media, the opposition and for resource development,” said Puri with the Federation helping them to sharpen communications skills. A new outreach initiative will be a features service aimed at reaching a wider audience.