Center organized a two-week long workshop on Leadership in Strategic Communication under the Sukh Initiative. The Sukh Initiative is a multi-donor funded family planning and reproductive health program of Aman Health Care Services. The program aims to increase modern contraceptive prevalence rate by 15 percentage points in one million underserved peri-urban population of Karachi, Pakistan.
The workshop was the eleventh of the series held almost every year since 2001. The workshop is facilitated by Professor Dr. Benjamin V. Lozare, Director for Training & Capacity Building at the Johns Hopkins Centre for Communication Programs based in Baltimore. Dr. Lozare is a leading international figure in research, teaching and practice in development communication. He has also advised various Pakistani partner organizations on health communication issues, including the ministries of Population Welfare and Health, as well as UNFPA and USAID. He was an Eisenhower Fellow and recipient of the first Newsweek International Communication Grant. He has a Ph.D. in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin, USA.
The aim of the workshop was to cognize the participants about the strategic leadership and social and behavior change communication and to motivate them to use these strategies in their projects. A total of 23 participants from government, nongovernment and private sectors participated in the workshop. In the beginning of the workshop, facilitator used team-building exercises allowing participants to create space for learning social and behavior change communication as well as leadership skills. Fun and attractive activities heighten the effectiveness of training sessions. It also gave the participant opportunity to know and gel in with each other. The participants were introduced to SCOPE – Strategic Communication Planning and Evaluation – that helped them to develop skills to design, plan and implement effective health communication projects. The participants were split into groups to do SCOPE exercise and then present to all the other groups. Same groups were given different exercises throughout the workshop to produce a final project at the end of the workshop.
Dr. Atif Ikram Butt, Center’s Executive Director, also conducted sessions with participants. One of the sessions was on the P-Process, which is a step-by-step roadmap to guide a loosely defined concept about changing behavior to strategic and participatory program grounded in theory with measurable impact. The participants were given relevant examples to make them understand about the process and how it can be used effectively.
The fourth day session implied strategy outline on the effective communication program. Dr. Lozare assigned participants for group presentation and also assured that all group members contribute meaningfully and equally to the final project. He demonstrated participants about the content and visuals to create a dynamic presentation in compelling manner.
An added feature of the workshop was the inclusion of the Smart Chart. Mr. Fayyaz Ahmad Khan, Center’s President and CCPs Senior Regional Technical Advisor, held two sessions to orient participants on the tool and its use in design and implementation of focused campaigns. Four more participants from Project Management Unit of Sukh Initiative joined the training, who at the end of the training were inspired to use Smart Chart while designing projects.
Another highlight of the workshop was the session on Gender and Communication. Dr. Lozare with examples aquatinted the participants with the importance of “gender” in health communication programs. The purpose was to encourage the incorporation of gender based roles and responsibilities in the design implementation and evaluation of health communication programs.
The participants were provided with gender guide in their manual. All the concepts and terminologies regarding gender were discussed including empowerment, gender bias, gender discrimination, gender roles, practical gender needs, strategic gender interest, gender equality and equity. Dr. Lozare did different activities to make participants understand the concepts better, i.e. stepping into audience’s shoes. The purpose was to make them understand how the community perceives the issues by identifying existing health concerns of both women and men and any barriers to addressing these concerns.
Participants were joined by high-level officials from government departments of health, population welfare and education on the last two day. Guests included Ms. Azra Pechuho, Member National Assembly and Chair of the FP2020 Taskforce, Ms. Shahnaz Wazir Ali, President SZABIST, Mr. Laeeq Ahmed, Secretary Population Welfare Department, Sindh, and Dr. Talib Lashari, Director for CIP). The guests participated in the sessions as well as observed the groups and gave their inputs in their final projects. During the group sessions each group worked with each observer from government and based on two weeks learning on strategic communication developed projects on different issues including child sexual abuse, early marriage, and reproductive health.
On the last day, each groups presented its respective campaign to a panel comprising high-level officials and given feedback for further improvement. Dr. Yasmeen Sabeeh Qazi, Senior Country Advisor for the Lucile and Packard Foundation also joined the panel to provide her valuable feedback to participants. In the closing ceremony, participants were given certificates while the guests were presented with ajraks to thank and acknowledge their participation. Dr. Benjamin Lozare was presented with shields from Center and Sukh Initiative and traditional Sindhi cap and shawl to acknowledge his immense contribution to the discipline of communication.
The 10-day workshop came to an end with the note that the learning will not discontinue rather participants will keep on filling their heads with new knowledge. The ultimate goal should be to keep on learning how to work with households and communities in analyzing, designing, developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating an effective communication programs. “We do not seek excellence, but rather continuous movement”.