Forum for Safe Motherhood (White Ribbon Alliance Pakistan Chapter) as it stands today reflects a capacity and expertise that has been honed over more than a decade. Through the years, we have redefined health advocacy for policy reform in Pakistan by augmenting evidence with community voices. This approach is based on our philosophy where we consider communities and duty bearers as equal partners in identifying policy and practice gaps, localizing evidence, and improving accountability for the realization of women’s right to health.
Emanating from inception itself, Convening Capacity has been one of our core strengths. As a national body, we have hosted UN organizations, civil society representatives, contractors, research organizations, implementers, and media representatives on our governing body. Organizational convening capacity was demonstrated in 2007 with the landmark Islamabad Declaration that led to the formation of the National Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) Program. Two years later, our Policy Seminar on Scaling-Up MNCH and Family Planning (FP) best practices in Pakistan resulted in the Karachi Declaration, which was signed by 12 secretaries of the then Ministry of Health (MoH), Ministry of Population Welfare (MoPW), and respective provincial departments. These events were co-sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) through Saving Newborn Lives (SNL), USAID, Packard, John Snow Inc. (JSI), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
More recent examples of successful multi-stakeholder initiatives were the 2019 ‘National Dialogue on Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) and Improving Maternal Health Measurement (IMHM) capacity and use in Pakistan’. In this, stakeholders reviewed EPMM strategies, related indicators and their potential to advance maternal health in Pakistan. On this occasion, collaboration with National Institute of Population Studies (NIPS), World Health Organization (WHO)-Pakistan and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s (W&HI) Women and Health Initiative, proved critical for chartering an advocacy roadmap.
In 2020 under the project ‘Safer Together’, national and provincial consultative sessions with reproductive, maternal, newborn, child health, and nutrition (RMNCH-N) and FP experts and duty bearers were successfully organized. These culminated in a joint statement for restoring and sustaining RMNCH and FP services during emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.