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Creating a Window of Opportunity for Policy Change By Nancy Yinger, The Population Reference Bureau AMDD Conference Kuala Lumpur, 2003 Workshop Objectives • Goal: To provide overview of the role of information in policy process. • Topics: The research-to-policy gap A model of the policy process Policy-relevant findings, implications, and recommendations The importance of evaluation The Research-to-Policy Gap • Large investments have been made in policy- relevant data collection and research. • Yet, opportunities for increasing knowledge and putting data to use are often lost. • Researchers and decision makers work in different spheres. How is the gap manifested? • Stereotypes • Assumptions about how decisions are made Researchers' Stereotypes of Policymakers Uninterested or too busy to read Reach hasty conclusions Actions unsubstantiated by data Distrust survey and research findings Limited perspective Should be responsible for drawing implications from the data Policymakers’ Stereotypes of Researchers Avoid policy implications of findings Prone to professional "faddism" Excessive use of technical jargon Inconclusive generalities about broad theoretical matters Little appreciation of real problems and data needs Assumptions about Decision-making Researchers may assume that policymakers: • Practice rational decision-making • Prioritize goals and objectives • Examine alternative solutions systematically • Choose alternatives that maximize goals Policymaking is Not Linear POLITICS SOLUTIONS PROBLEMS A Window of Opportunity for Policy Change POLITICS Window of opportunity PROBLEMS SOLUTIONS Moving the Spheres Together POLITICS PROBLEMS SOLUTIONS The Goal of Agenda Setting Help issues gain and keep the attention of: The media The public Policymakers Characteristics of Issues that Get on the Policy Agenda • Clear, measurable indicators • Policy champions • Feasible policy or program alternatives • Attention-focusing events Agenda Setting Activities • Press conferences and other kinds of support for journalists • Public events, seminars and speeches • One-on-one meetings with policymakers Coalition Building Links together individuals from Government The academic community The media NGOs and advocacy groups Businesses Coalition Building Activities • Create and/or facilitate media or advocacy networks • Provide information to existing networks Policy Learning • The ongoing stream of information to policymakers • An understanding by all actors of complex power relations and changing institutional arrangements Policy Learning Activities • Policy analyses • Publications • Electronic communications (websites, CD-roms, e- newsletters) • Seminars and briefings Crafting the Policy Message Policy communication messages derive directly from the data help decision makers to understand policy implications and to make grounded policy recommendations. Research to Recommendations Research Key Findings Implications Recommendations Implications are: • Broad statements that express a direction, new information, or a need implied by the findings. • Analyses derived from two or more findings. • Guides to help the audience begin to interpret the findings. Making the Link to Recommendations Implications are a bridge from your key findings to policy recommendations. Recommendations: • Offer specific actions that you urge a policymaker or program planner to take. • Should start with an action & be S.M.A.R.T. A S.M.A.R.T. Recommendation Is: • Specific • Measurable • Action-oriented • Realistic • Timebound Skilled Attendance at Delivery, by Residence, India 1998-99 Percent of live births 60 56 50 40 30 23 18 20 11 10 0 Urban Rural Doctor Trained nurse/midwife Source: OCR Macro, India National Family Health Survey, Demographic and Health Surveys. Implications • Rural women may be at significantly higher risk of maternal death than urban women because of the low level of skill attendance at birth. • A higher percentage of the urban women who have skilled care rely on doctors, which may result in higher medical costs. Recommendations • Within one year, conduct a behavior change campaign in rural areas to increase awareness of the importance of skilled care, and in urban areas to build support for using nurse/midwives. • Within two years, expand the number of trained nurse/midwives by 50%, and include a community service requirement to increase the pool of skilled providers in rural areas. Place of Delivery, by Education, Peru 2000 Percent of live births 90 84 81 80 69 70 60 50 40 29 30 15 18 20 10 0 No Education Primary Education Secondary + Delivery at health facility Delivery at home Source: OCR Peru Demographic and Health Survey. Implication • Educational level is clearly related to whether women in Peru deliver their babies at home or in facilities, but only the most educated women rely on facilities. Since women with primary education are quite similar to those with no education, programs need to target both groups to address their needs for safe delivery. Recommendations • Within 6 months, conduct additional analysis on the constraints to facility-based delivery faced by the 2 lower-education groups. • Within 1 year, start a community-based project to address those constraints, including materials for low-literate or illiterate populations about the danger signs of obstetric emergencies. Evaluating Policy Communications Have policy communications activities : • Helped your issues gain the attention of policy makers; • Enhanced coalition efforts to increase the saliency of your issues; or • Supported policy learning? And Ultimately…The Window of Opportunity Is there evidence of change in • Policies, • Programs, • Strategies, or • Resource allocation? Need for Benchmarks Coalition building Policy Learning “best” “worst” Agenda Setting Initial Assessment Policy Coalition building Learning Agenda Setting Post-Intervention Assessment Coalition Building: Policy Learning: No change Improved Window open Agenda Setting: Improved In Summary • Policy change is a complex, dynamic process. • Research can play a key role but the research-to-policy gap must be bridged. • Agenda-setting, coalition building & policy learning are key elements in policy change. • Effective policy communication depends on clear findings, implications & recommendations. Saving Women’s Lives Communicating your research findings to policymakers will help open the Window of Opportunity for improved maternal health policies. Thank you!
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