ISDS believes that generating and sharing knowledge, through research, information sharing, capacity building and advocating for social causes identified and understood from doing research and working with grass-root, will plays important part in realizing these above mission and goals. As such, each area of work is a unique combination of all these four interrelated activities.
ISDS has undertaken scientific investigations on sensitive and critical social issues which are often neglected by the government. For the past seven years, the Institute has conducted many ground-breaking and cutting-edge studies with the purpose of understanding and explaining the current challenges that Vietnamese society is facing as well as proposing solutions.
ISDS’ advocacy efforts are to facilitate processes leading to positive changes in the society, that in line with our mission. ISDS believes in evidence-based advocacy, utilizing findings from our own researches and gathering evidence collected by others in Vietnam and elsewhere. Advocacy is a strategy to make our research having practical impacts.
To maximize advocacy impact, ISDS adopts two approaches – 1) engage key stakeholders including the government and the grassroots from conception through out finding dissemination and intervention development, which give them the ownership, make them aware of the issues, and build their capacity; and 2) invest in communicating with policy-makers and the public to provide them with correct knowledge, encourage discussion and debate, and suggest policy options.
Four strategies are being employed to achieve effective communication with policy-makers:
- Continuously build our reputation as a highly-regarded research institution,
- Openly develop working relationships with institutions and groups in different sectors, at different levels as reliable partners to build allies for a collected voice,
- Actively cultivate on collaboration with strategic partners in communication – such as the most popular mass media as well as oversea media that popular among the policymakers, and institutions that provide information to the government agencies, and
- Gradually improve our communication skills by having staff trained in communication, and develop our own channels of communication, so that information and advocacy messages are packaged and presented appropriately and effectively, and delivered timely to the targeted audience.
Information sharing is a considered by ISDS as a strategy not only to disseminate our own research findings and lessons, but also to facilitate dialogue and debate, to advocate, to strengthen capacity and to encourage networking.
ISDS shares information and encourages information sharing using channels made available by others as well as those created by ourselves. The Institute uses various channels with different means – from mass media, meetings, conferences, workshops, to website, resource center, publications, newsletter, seminars to one-on-one meetings. ISDS’ Seminar Series of Gender, Sexuality and HIV is well-known to professionals in the country. Our dissemination workshops are usually packed with participants, the magazine Living with HIV is so appreciated that it has been photocopied to be used in some places, the Resource Center on Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health is the biggest in the country for the collection of publications on the topics, some ISDS’ professional staff have become familiar faces and names for TV and newspapers.
ISDS has supported capacity building in three areas: i) sexuality and sexual health; ii) HIV and AIDS; and iii) civil society organizational development. In the first area, the Institute has organized trainings for university faculty, government offices, mass organizations and NGOs. In the second area, the trainings has reached departments of government and the Party from the central to commune levels in many provinces, the national mass media such as television and newspapers, NGOs and development projects. In the third area, ISDS’ effort is most recognized by supporting Vietnam Civil Society Partnership Platform on AIDS (VCSPA) in its conception as well as development. At present, ISDS partners with other NGOs to established a partnership of civil society organizations promoting health equity.