Next year is a crucial year for the future of Afghanistan. British troops will withdraw and a new president will be elected. None of the positive outcomes that are hoped for are certain, whilst the country’s hard-fought progress in human rights is fragile. But what’s interesting in our increasingly interconnected world is that much of its success may depend upon factors that can be influenced by marketing.
This month we are highlighting the work of the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group (BAAG) and their campaign to make the voices of the most vulnerable in Afghanistan heard internationally and to promote the protection of their rights and opportunities. And we are asking what role you as a Marketing Society member can play in supporting positive outcomes.
BAAG is a network of 30 British and Irish agencies operating in Afghanistan (such as Oxfam, Save the Children, Action Aid, and many more). Over the last 26 years they have provided a collective voice on key advocacy and policy matters - such as women's rights and the important role of civil society. For example, they work to bring to light the important and dangerous work of female leaders who are creating women’s shelters in Afghanistan to make sure it is recognized and supported.
BAAG aims to launch a year-long campaign of public events and activities which highlight the importance of continuing international aid and support to Afghanistan, and the difference it is making in areas such as education for girls. As Jenny Humphreys, Programme and Communications Coordinator at BAAG, explains: “We're really excited about the 2014 campaign, and have some ambitious ideas about innovative, fun and far-reaching events to engage the general public. We’re considering a film festival, sporting events, supporting Afghan children in creating revealing and inspiring videos of day-to-day life to engage through social media with an international audience that still has a crucial role to play in contributing to their education. But we need help in branding and managing this campaign. We usually work with NGOs, academics and donors - we're not experienced in reaching out to the general public.”
In order to maximise the potential of its campaign for 2014, BAAG would love to have support in three areas of marketing:
- Branding expertise to create the overarching campaign identity (including the slogan and logo) which will unite their many activities.
- Support in developing their social media strategy to drive participation in the campaign.
- Review of the campaign’s activities and events line-up and overall marketing strategy.
As Jenny adds, “Great progress has been made on the ground in Afghanistan since 2001 - but very little of this is communicated to the British public or to key decision makers. BAAG aims to provide a more balanced and accurate picture of Afghanistan, to demonstrate that aid has already improved the lives of Afghans and that with ongoing support this resilient and capable nation could be self-sufficient again. That the progress made should be protected and nurtured.”
Indeed, much of the progress that has been seen in Afghanistan in the last few years has been supported by the valuable work of BAAG’s member agencies. Around 5.7 million children now attend school regularly, including 2.7 million girls. Around 4,500 schools have been reconstructed or built and the number of teachers has gone up sevenfold since 2002 to 170,000, including 50,000 female teachers.
But there are many difficulties still to overcome. These include security threats to teachers in the remote areas they are needed most, and under-age marriage of girls forcing their withdrawal from school. BAAG's mission is to work together with member agencies and others to ensure needs and aspirations of Afghans, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, are heard at the international level.
2014 will be a critical year for Afghanistan, with the scheduled security and political transitions. A lot of uncertainty remains regarding the future of Afghanistan's stability and development, so your help in supporting BAAG’s efforts to create a positive future for and with the people of Afghanistan is particularly vital.