What We Are Doing

Amplifying voices in India 2 Sep 2015

Written by Bidisha Pillai, Director Advocacy, Campaigning and Communications, Save the Children India

Save the Children India's efforts on advocacy, campaigning and communications paid off last week as they built up momentum on child and maternal survival. Over the past few months, India's advocacy and campaigning team has been working very closely with the Indian Government and civil society partner organisations to take the agenda of maternal and child survival to the top. 

25 August - Race for Survival

The week started with 2,000 children and youth from 200 schools come together for Race for Survival and raising a 'Call to Action' to ending preventable child deaths in the country. 

On the 25th of August, a bright and sunny day, thousands of children collected at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi to participate in the unique race and demand better healthcare facilities for every mother, every child. Children from over 20 schools across Delhi participated in the race, which was organised by action/2015 partners Save the Children, Nine is Mine and UNICEF.

Ms Sunita Godara, who has run 71 full marathons and holds the record of running the maximum marathons by any Indian, was the chief guest at the event. We also had Ms. Caroline den Dulk, Chief, Advocacy & Communications, UNICEF India, Ms. Bidisha Pillai, Director of Advocacy, Save the Children, Amitabh Behar, National Anchor, action/2015 India and Brother Steve, National Convener, Nine is Mine address the crowd and educate them about the importance of the year - 2015.

The Race was held ahead of the Global Call for Action meeting, hosted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, wherein several commitments at a global scale were made for ending preventable child and maternal deaths.

Check out the photos on Flickr.

26 August - The Civil Society Consultation

On 26 August, Save the Children India convened an International Civil Society Consultation with over 100 participants from all stakeholders including the Government, development partners, CSOs and community based organisations.

We had top level representation from development partners including USAID Deputy Mission Director, UNICEF’s Deputy Executive Director, Tata Trusts head of Partnerships; leading Civil society voices and the Health Minister of Zambia – who came to our platform and committed to taking specific measurable steps to end preventable, Maternal, Child and Newborn Deaths in her country. The Government of India representatives although unable to attend the event due to the Call to Action Summit preparations, expressed their support through a strong statement from the Additional Secretary and Mission Director NHM, Mr CK Misra who said,

My sincere apologies for not being able to join you all this morning, although I had every intention of doing so. But circumstances beyond my control mean that I am unable to join you in person, However, I am very much present in spirit.

….But to ensure that we are inclusive, and get a diversity of voices and opinions, we thought that the idea of a civil society consultation a day prior to the Summit will allow for a richer and more varied set of comments and reflections to come through. We are very pleased that Save the Children has pulled this event together - I wish you a day of fruitful discussions and look forward to hearing the outcomes in our Summit on the 28th.”

In support of our objective for political visibility on the new Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health, we engaged Emerine Kabanshi, Minister of Community Development, Mother and Child Health, Zambia to share closing remarks at the CSO consultation and she received the Race for Survival baton from youth delegates who participated in the Race for Survival, with a lobby letter focused on the new Global Strategy and specific recommendations from Save the Children in Zambia.

Recommendations from citizens shared through the 100+ Citizens’ Hearings, held earlier in the year, were shared during the consultation, and Aparajita Gogoi of White Ribbon Alliance India used the consultation to demand for increased support for accountability platforms for the updated Global Strategy and the health SDGs.

The main Objective of the consultation was to discuss progress made (specifically by CSOs) and what needs to be done to address the unfinished agenda on MDGs 4 & 5.

Key outcomes:

a)     A set of recommendations for governments to consider as they get set to agree development goals and targets for the next decade.

b)    A set of recommendations that set out how governments could engage more with citizens and civil society in tracking progress on women’s, children’s and newborns’ health.

Find the full set of recommendations here, and our asks on accountability, and a common reporting/ review framework also made it into the final Government Declaration document.

27-28 August: The Call to Action Summit


In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly passed the landmark resolution to build “A World Fit for Children.” That historic act has helped to save and enhance the lives of millions of children around the world.

In 2012, Governments, civil society organizations renewed this promise to children, through the Global Call to Action which was co-convened by the US (USAID), Government of India and Government of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia in Washington DC.There was a follow up regional meeting in Ethiopia in January 2013 and in India in February 2013 and several national child survival call to action plans.  A second anniversary event was held in Washington, DC in 2014. 

Nearly 180 countries signed the pledge in 2012 that committed to ending preventable child deaths.  Since then, countries have also committed to ending maternal and newborn deaths as well as significantly reduce malnutrition. 

A third Promise Renewed event took place on August 27-28 in New Delhi, India – the Global Call to Action for Preventing Child and Maternal Deaths - hosted by the Government of India. This event came on the heels of the Financing for Development Conference and just ahead of the UN General Assembly. 22 countries with the highest burden of Child and Maternal deaths attended.

  • Save the Children India was represented on the Steering Committee for the Call to Action alongside USAID, UNICEF, BMGF, TATA TRUSTS, WHO etc., represented ably by Thomas Chandy, Save the Children India's CEO. In addition, we were present on two sub committees - Communications and Marketplace for best practices, which resulted in strong inputs to the communications plan, content for the Book launched at the summit - Born to BE, and 3 Save the Children case studies being selected as Best Practices at the Marketplace – Afghanistan (recognised for systems strengthening ), Nigeria (for demonstrating partnership delivering the Health Act), Nepal (convergence on ground to deliver results).

  • The Coffee Table Book titled ‘Born to BE’ released by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the inauguration ceremony of the Summit had over 15 photos from Save the Children collection!

  • Save the Children obtained 3 speaking slots for Save the Children in the Main Global Call to Action summit including Robert Clay, Vice President for Global Health Save US, David Oot, Senior Adviser for Health and Nutrition and Thomas Chandy – who reinforced key messages and asks on maternal, child and newborn health, and presented our recommendations from the CSO consultation which have been shared with all 450 delegates and representatives of the 22 countries who attended the Summit.

  • The Health Ministers from Ethiopia and Afghanistan received Race for Survival batons with lobby messages asking for their commitment towards child survival. Robert Clay, VP for Global Health at Save the Children US met with the First Lady of Mali and the attending Health Minister, speaking for an hour about our work in Mali. The First Lady appreciated our efforts in Mali as an organisation and committed her support towards our work on child and maternal survival. The head of the delegation from Indonesia also received a Race for Survival baton, and discussed collaboration in New York regarding events in support of the Global Strategy and women’s and children’s health.

The last 10 day were a great example of campaigning and mobilisation, communications and advocacy around one of our key breakthrough areas – child survival – which we achieved working collectively with colleagues across the organisation.