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UNFPA’s sixth Country programme (2017 – 2021) advocates for the availability of evidence-based population and reproductive health strategies and action plans allowing the country to benefit from its demographic window of opportunity.  To improve the capacities to communicate strategic issues effectively, UNFPA organized a three day country-based course from 16 to 18 October 2017. This training was facilitated by Allen & Clarke a Public Consultancy Firm from New Zealand that specializes in policy evaluation, programme development, and implementation with significant experience in conducting policy formation courses and training for diverse groups and organizations.  

The training covered topics such as the policy cycle, and policy monitoring, cycle, the effective use of research for policy dialogue, drafting policy briefs, and advocacy and negotiation.  Through a participatory approach, identified issues in UNFPA sixth country programme (CP) were discussed and case studies presented to put into practise how evidence can be translated into actionable policy recommendation.  Examples of issues debated werethe increased availability and use of integrated sexual and reproductive health services, strengthening national policies through integration of evidence based analysis on population dynamics, with a special focus on population ageing and the needs of older persons..  The renowned demographer, Dr. Abbassi presented the case study on using the potential of youth to reap Demographic Dividend, and Dr. Eslami from Ministry of Health and Medical Educationmade a presentation on promoting Sexual and Reproductive Health among new married couples

The facilitators walked the participants through stakeholder analysis, environmental scanning, and development of advocacy plans enabling them to have a strategic intervention for influencing policy makers generally and particularly within UNFPA’s sixth CP.  Considering the dynamic of the participants from various government organizations and their rich experience in their arena, the discussions were of high calibre. The practical sessions and group exercises enabled the participants to put theory into practise within their area of work.  By the end of day three, participants also gained a greater understanding on how to effectively use a range of communication tools such as infographics to influence policy making, as well as how to prepare an advocacy plan.

At the end of the workshop, Dr. Joudane UNFPA Representative sincerely thanked the Statistical Centre of Iran, and the Statistical Research and Training Center of Iran (SRTC) for generously offering their venue and their valuable human resources, and for an impeccable organization of the logistics.  She also thanked the participants for allocating a full 3-day out of their busy schedules to this training.