A Spotlight on White Ribbon Alliance


Putting communities at the center of global, national, and local efforts to advance self-care

For this month’s spotlight, the Self-Care Trailblazer Group is focusing on the White Ribbon Alliance, a a global movement of passionate advocates sparking action to advance reproductive, maternal and newborn health and rights. Learn more from Amanda Livingstone, WRA’s Senior Advocacy Officer. 

Tell us a bit about your organization

A Ugandan woman wearing a pink sleeveless shirt with black polka-dots and orange skirt holds a paper sign reading “What Women Want! My One request for quality reproductive and maternal healthcare services is total respect for my body.” The woman’s name is Deborah, 18 years old, from Uganda.
Photo credit: WRA Uganda

Through our vast network of National Alliances, members, and allies, White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) works to activate the global movement for sexual, reproductive, maternal, and newborn health and rights. Specifically, we put communities at the center of global, national, and local efforts. WRA is a collection of 14 National Alliances – autonomous networks that include individuals, local and international organizations, professional associations, government entities, youth and other community members, academic and health training institutions – that employ a set of strategic approaches to uphold human rights and address systemic barriers to quality reproductive and maternal healthcare. We connect women, their voices and lived experiences, with those in power, ensuring that solutions to reproductive and maternal health challenges are based on actual needs, rather than assumptions. Nothing demonstrates this better than our most recent global campaign What Women Want, which heard from more than one million women about their needs for quality healthcare. Their responses are now our advocacy agenda. These types of collective efforts from National Alliances, members, and partners have resulted in increased resources, improved policies, and greater accountability for women, girls, and their communities. Join us and together we can ensure that all women and girls have the opportunity to organize, lead, and change social norms so that they realize their right to quality health and well-being!

White Ribbon Alliance serves as the Self-Care Trailblazers Group (SCTG) Global Advocacy Learning Interface by facilitating cross-learning and accelerating uptake and achievement of shared advocacy objectives among SCTG priority countries, as well as self-care advocates, partners, and targets in other emerging focus geographies. As part of the SCTG, WRA connects and amplifies the efforts among three National Self-Care Networks (NSN) in Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda; organizes quarterly exchange sessions as the Country Advocacy Working Group (CAWG) lead; and manages a self-care advocacy sharing platform – the Self-Care Learning Lab – to connect members, grow participation, and integrate self-care advocacy learnings into the broader health and development community. In addition to its active participation in the SCTG, WRA led the series of country consultations that informed the Self-Care Advocacy Roadmap.

Why do you consider self-care to be a vital part of healthcare systems?

Photo credit: WRA Tanzania

WRA believes that self-care is the radical act of individuals maintaining and improving their and their family’s health and well-being through practicing healthy behaviors and actions; seeking information, knowledge, and education; and making the best use of resources that are available– grounding self-care as a vital part of every country’s healthcare system. Self-care puts power into people’s hands by taking actions that preserve their health and wellbeing while increasing autonomy and decision-making of individuals, specifically women and adolescents. Self-care advocacy is also an essential piece of healthcare systems, as it builds support among decision-makers, influencers, and the public to create related changes in attitude, behaviors, policies, resources, and systems on a national level. More intimately, self-care advocacy can also be about having the ability and confidence to speak up for yourself and your rights – whether by knowing your rights and entitlements or by making or negotiating decisions for yourself within your close circles of family and friends, and with healthcare providers, igniting a positive shift in bodily autonomy as well as the patient-provider relationship.

How does WRA believe that the CAWG can advance the self-care movement?

The SCTG Country Advocacy Working Group (CAWG) provides a forum for SCTG members and non-members to share, learn, and incubate promising advocacy models and approaches on a variety of self-care topics, ranging from family planning to self-care’s link to feminism and bodily autonomy. The CAWG offers quarterly meetings that are held for 2-3 hours that focus on specific advocacy themes. Upcoming meetings will highlight advocacy members and partners working on the topics of most interest to members – and we hope you can join us! If you are interested in joining the CAWG, you can sign up HERE. CAWG members gain access to the SCTG CAWG Slack Channel, self-care resources, and a variety of learning exchange opportunities on how experts and actors are implementing and advocating for self-care across the global movement. 

You can still RSVP to the first Self-care CAWG meeting on Tuesday, March 2nd from 7:00 – 9:30am EST | 1:00 – 3:30pm WAT | 3:00 – 5:30pm EAT to engage in a dynamic discussion and learning exchange that will focus on how advocates are driving key policy changes for self-care at the country level, including adapting global guidelines for local contexts. You will hear about groundbreaking self-care country advocacy initiatives and tools and add your voice about your self-care advocacy work and plans to take new learnings forward!

Tell us more about the learning lab!

We are thrilled to launch a new month-long Annual Self-Care Learning Lab between 24 June and 24 July 2021 in celebration of International Self-Care Month! This Learning Lab will feature multiple ‘hot topic’ sessions organized by diverse individuals and organizations that examine and approach self-care from different angles. The SCTG Learning Lab will aim to increase knowledge and understanding of different aspects of self-care; connect more people within and across the self-care movement; ignite new self-care work and migrate self-care across contexts; and surface inclusive and diverse community interests and needs in self-care. The Learning lab will also take a community-centered approach, be as inclusive and accessible as possible through hosting sessions in multiple time zones and languages, be mutually beneficial to participants and presenters through bi-directional learning, and will value the individuals and organizations presenting in and organizing sessions by providing honorariums in recognition of the time, energy, and ideas contributed to the Learning Lab. More details will be available soon – but please reach out to Amanda Livingstone, Senior Advocacy Officer with WRA Global at [email protected] if you have any initial comments, questions, or ideas!

Banner photo credit: WRA Zimbabwe.