Long Read

Theory of Change


In order to empower people to improve their health, we take an integrated approach with three components. First, we strengthen knowledge so that individuals can make informed decisions about their health and bodies. Second, we create a supportive environment in which the needs and rights of individuals are respected and upheld by relevant stakeholders. Third, we help individuals to gain access to the good quality sustainable services they need to improve and maintain their health.

It starts in the community, where certain social norms and values restrict opportunities for individuals, particularly women and girls, and limit their ability to make informed choices about their health – free from discrimination, coercion and violence. Recognising that everyone has the right to a healthy life, Simavi takes a rights-based approach to remove these barriers.

To make this change, we work with partner organisations which are rooted in and understand their communities and the national context. We strengthen the capacity of civil society organisations to represent the health needs and rights of communities at local, national and international levels. We do this by giving tailored support and technical assistance to boost our partners’ organisational capacity, their technical capacity and expertise, and their capacity for lobby & advocacy. We strengthen their capacity to position themselves among a wide range of relevant actors, linking with, among others, communities, grass-roots movements, civil society, governments and the public and private sector. In doing so, we support civil society in playing its crucial role to make sustainable changes towards a healthy life for all.


Our partners engage with people and create awareness at the community level about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). We emphasise social inclusion and gender equality to encourage the removal of sociocultural barriers which have a significant impact on the health and well-being of women, girls and socially excluded groups. When people become aware of these issues, they are encouraged to set up community structures, such as local health groups and school WASH committees, and to monitor the health status in their communities and hold local institutions to account. With these functional community structures and a genuine prioritisation of SRHR and WASH in communities and districts, we strengthen the call for sustainable, gender-sensitive and inclusive SRHR and WASH services and policies.

Civil society

To strengthen the call for SRHR and WASH for all, Simavi enhances the skills of our partners to work with other civil society actors, pass on their knowledge and join forces to lobby more powerfully and magnify their impact. We encourage them to take a stand at regional and international levels by linking up with relevant platforms and networks and engaging in constructive dialogue with duty bearers.

Government and public & private sector

We work with our partners to engage with governments and the public and private sector and strengthen the capacity of these actors to work on SRHR and WASH in a socially inclusive and gender-sensitive manner. By increasing their understanding of these issues and improving the skills they need, we ensure government actors and service providers prioritise action to resolve them, such as stimulating changes to social and cultural norms through school curricula and public information campaigns, providing the necessary physical infrastructure, and amending policies and legislation to incorporate the rights of their citizens to these SRHR and WASH services. Duty bearers will then be fulfilling their responsibilities to respect the SRHR and WASH needs and demands of their citizens.

International policy influencing

To support our programmes in the countries where we work, Simavi advocates strong political and sufficient financial support at Dutch, national (local, in-country) and international levels, for both SRHR and WASH, to ensure a healthy life for all. Implementation of the SDGs is a major element in this regard. Where possible we involve local partners in our advocacy efforts. For example at global level we often strategise with and support local partners to join international platforms such as the Commission on the Status of Women and Sanitation and Water for All. We also work in alliances (e.g. End Water Poverty, Reproductive Health Supplies Network) to strengthen our message.



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