For many years, Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS) has had a thriving global presence. The Our Bodies Ourselves Global Initiative (OBOGI), a program of OBOS, collaborated with women’s groups around the world to create and distribute publications and resources based on Our Bodies, Ourselves.
In 2018, due to financial constraints, Our Bodies Ourselves transitioned to a volunteer-led nonprofit. As a result, OBOS’s global activities have been significantly reduced. However, Our Bodies Ourselves is still able to provide some guidance and support to global groups or individuals who wish to adapt Our Bodies, Ourselves.
In the past, all potential partners completed a multi-step application, determined by the scope of their projects. Permission to use Our Bodies, Ourselves and receive technical assistance was only granted upon completing the application process and signing an agreement. Because of the recent changes, our policies and some aspects of the application process have changed. Please carefully review the questions and answers below and seek clarifications from OBOS before proceeding.
Who Does OBOS Partner With?
OBOS has frequently been approached by individuals and organizations interested in developing publications and resources based on Our Bodies, Ourselves. It has been OBOS’s policy to partner with legally established nonprofit women’s organizations rather than individuals. This works well because nonprofits are more likely able to:
- Establish a firm base for project implementation, management and coordination.
- Expand the diversity of voices represented in the content being developed.
- Control the editing process and provide a central location to resolve content decisions.
- Build organizational capacity and leadership.
- Capitalize on existing local, regional and global networks, and build others for maximum impact.
- Plan and effectively implement distribution and outreach.
In addition, OBOS has always prioritized partnerships with organizations that promote and work within a framework of human rights and reproductive justice; employ women in key staff and leadership positions; identify Our Bodies, Ourselves as a resource for their community; and have the experience and organizational capacity to transform the book into a culturally meaningful tool for action.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Coordinating Group?
Coordinating groups lead the project from beginning to end. Here is a brief list of what may be required:
- Complete the application process and sign an agreement with OBOS.
- Fundraise and strategize on promotion, distribution and outreach.
- Select, coordinate and work with a team on content development, narratives and graphics.
- Peer review content and make editorial decisions.
- Explore publishing options, including self-publishing or working with a publisher willing to take on short print or digital formats.
- Provide periodic updates to OBOS.
- Publicize, distribute and strategize on ways to bring the adapted materials to the community. Depending on capacity, undertake outreach and evaluation.
What Should Coordinating Groups Consider Before Taking on a Project?
As you begin to consider developing a resource based on Our Bodies, Ourselves for your community, explore the following:
Who is our audience? Whose needs will be addressed, and who do you intend to reach with your resource?
Format: What is the physical form in which health materials will be made available? Examples include books, e-books, booklets, posters, as well as content for handheld devices, radio, websites, community campaigns, workshops and trainings.
Scope: Which content from Our Bodies, Ourselves do you hope to base your resource on?
The format and scope depend largely on local needs and available resources. While each partner has the best understanding of what content is useful locally and in what format, OBOS can provide vital guidance – based on experience with other partners – on setting goals that are realistic and meaningful to the community. When possible, this guidance can also be sought directly from other partners that have used Our Bodies, Ourselves content to develop resources for their countries.
While any decisions made at this juncture can be reviewed down the road, comprehensive preliminary discussions are critical to planning, fundraising and networking. It will also help OBOS determine how best to assist you.
What Do Coordinating Groups Need to Know About the Current Process?
The most recent edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves was published in 2011. OBOS currently has no current plans to update it. Potential partners may use this edition but are urged to check the accuracy of any content that may have changed since its publication.
Because Our Bodies Ourselves has limited capacity to offer support and assistance, we no longer encourage potential partners to adapt the whole book. Instead, potential partners are offered access to anywhere from one to 20 pages at a time. Access to additional content, after the first 20 pages, is possible, but will likely be limited to the same amount (20 pages) each time.
Why Has OBOS Set a 20-Page Limit on New Adaptation Requests?
The new policy to offer access up to 20 pages at a time is based on several factors:
- OBOS’s volunteer-led team does not have the capacity to support partners that are adapting more than 20 pages at a time.
- Full-book projects often result in dated information at publication, high investments of money/infrastructure, burn out and little capacity for distribution and outreach.
- Changes in the publishing industry, which is moving away from print to short electronic formats, with an emphasis on user experience on digital devices.
- Unwillingness of funders to support open-ended, full-book projects with extended timeframes, and funders’ preference for smaller, more agile and manageable projects that can scale-up (as capacity and successes mount) and integrate community-based outreach or action.
To ensure their sustainability and success, potential partners are encouraged to keep resources agile, focus on the most important issues, and get information out quickly and efficiently. This eliminates the pressure on organizational capacity that is inevitable when adapting and moving content from the entire book – or other large segments of the book – into the community.
What Kind of Support Can a Coordinating Group Expect From OBOS?
Since OBOGI was created in 2001, and up until OBOS’s transition to a volunteer-led non-profit in 2018, the program leveraged four decades of experience in women’s health publishing and advocacy to provide partners with support as they developed materials based on Our Bodies, Ourselves, strategized distribution and outreach, and (when possible) organized for social and political change. Examples of technical assistance can be found here.
With OBOS’s transition to a volunteer-led team in 2018, technical assistance to potential partners has been significantly reduced due to limited capacity. While support will be dependent on the needs of particular projects, going forward, partners can expect:
- Guidance on planning, start-up and project governance.
- Content and graphics in digital format.
- Input on content development and other issues within OBOS’s field of expertise.
- Planning and evaluation tools.
- Contacts in the field of women’s health and human rights.
Other forms of support, such as assistance with promotion, outreach, funding and grant management, will not be available unless OBOS reconstitutes a fully resourced OBOGI team in the future.
What if Publication Rights Are No Longer Available in a Specific Language?
Transformations of Our Bodies, Ourselves are already available in many languages. In the event publication rights are not available in a requested language(s), OBOS can facilitate an introduction to the partner that has already developed health materials in that language(s).
Even though you will not drive and coordinate the project, this may offer an opportunity to become involved in some capacity in an initiative with goals similar to yours.
How should an interested group begin the application process?
After reading these FAQs, the next step is to contact Our Bodies Ourselves.
Please provide a brief outline of your project idea and tell us who your intended audience is, the preferred format and the focus of your materials. Also tell us about your organization’s goals, capabilities and plans and how it is equipped to take on the project coordination.
How Can Individuals Help With a Particular In-Country Project?
While OBOS values the interest and enthusiasm of individuals, for the reasons mentioned above, and based on experience, individuals are not encouraged to take on project coordination.
However, individuals can often get involved by contributing to ongoing projects. Though the nature of this involvement would be determined by the particular needs of a coordinating partner, it may include translating/ writing/adapting/content, contributing narratives and original graphics, editing or peer reviewing, networking or assisting with distribution and publicity.
We invite individuals to contact OBOS if you would like to explore these or other ideas.