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What is Advocacy?



Advocates speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.


As an international human rights legal advocate and lobbyist since 2009 both internationally and nationally, I am willing to share some tips with you here ....


Advocacy is often defined as the public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy, or the profession or work of a legal advocate.


Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.


Here, we will take a look at how advocacy is defined, what kinds of activities comprise advocacy work, and what kinds of advocacy projects you can get involved in.

Advocacy is different from lobbying Lobbying is only one kind of advocacy.


Lobbying is focused specifically on petitioning Members of Parliament, or Parliaments for specific legislative reform, change or amendments to laws for a particular cause.


Not all advocacy is lobbying but all lobbying is advocacy.

Advocacy may include:

  1. awareness campaigns;

  2. education campaigns;

  3. research and data analysis;

  4. support of victims survivors;

  5. policy reform;

  6. legislative reform; and/or

  7. political lobbying.


Advocacy can be for an individual, a group of people, a community or for a specific cause or issue. Advocates can be family members or friends, representatives, volunteers or legal representatives.


The power of advocacy can cut across local, state, federal or international issues, jurisdictions and communities.



Steps to Strategic Advocacy Includes:

  1. Articulating the problem you face and proposing a solution;

  2. Speaking on behalf of the most vulnerable;

  3. Speaking to other relevant stakeholders;

  4. Researching the current state of play;

  5. Drawing up strategic solutions, including the voice of the voiceless;

  6. Develop a vision and an effective message for your proposed solution;

  7. Speaking with one coherent voice with one clear message;

  8. Including the credibility of of experts and legitimate agencies;

  9. Proposing your solutions to the most relevant stakeholders, including in Parliament;

  10. Representing the issue to all levels of leadership and government;

  11. Successfully coordinating a joint advocacy campaign (online and unperson events);

  12. Engaging and including Civil society, NGO's and Government stakeholders in the solutions and campaigns/events;

  13. Engaging a broad range of representatives of the issue you are advocating;

  14. Engaging the general public, building awareness and a broader team online, and in person campaign events, including political lobbying, human rights advocacy and education, such as conferences or round-table panel seminars.

Too often, we define our advocacy in terms of our tactics, the specific actions and activities we undertake to move our goals forward.


Advocacy plans are definitely full of such deliverables – a report, public testimony, meetings with officials, a news event, etc. but, extend beyond this!


The most important element to advocacy is the relationships you build - the people currency in the interactions, the solutions, the strategic messaging and so forth.


Choosing your spokesperson for the problem-pitch, and then the solution-focused strategy will be key to a successful campaign.


For example, are you in a position to put a spkesperson forward who has actually lived throguh the issues you raise? Their personal stories will often be more compelling.


Strategy is the key!

Strategy is the wider view that threads all the tactics and activities of political lobbying, human rights advocacy and education campaigns in addition to on-line surveys, petitions, videos together into something coherent and powerful.


Strategy is a path of action that begins where you actually are, ends where you truly want to be, and has a plausible chance of taking you through the full journey from one to the other.


In strategising for your advocacy campaign, begin by first asking some key questions:

Articulate clearly your position on each of the above, and formulate a strategy and plan around its implantation by considering achievable, measurable goals for each step:


  1. WHAT DO YOU WANT?

  2. WHAT DOES THE POLITICAL MAP LOOK LIKE?

  3. WHAT IS YOUR PLAN OF ACTION FOR REAL RESULTS?


Think about it:

  1. What is the problem you are trying to solve?

  2. What is the long-term solution you are proposing?

  3. What are some short-term objectives that build towards your vision?


When we are advocating for one singular issue, it is bound to impact on so many other important issues, as life is not lived in the singular.


A further consideration to your advocacy campaigns might be: the impact locally, nationally and internationally.


International and human rights standards may apply.


The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals is a good starting point as an indicator for international standards and goals for human rights practices and standards.


The United Nations Sustainable Goals

The United Nations Sustainable Goals reflects on the international minimum standards of living and access to services for all persons everywhere.


The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.


At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries - developed and developing - in a global partnership.


The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, represent a historic milestone, a commitment among nations all across the world to walk together towards the achievement of 17 essential, urgent and measurable advancements for the world’s people.


From education, to environmental protection, to women’s rights, the SDGs represent an ambitious global vision for the future.


One key element of that support for implementation of the SDG's is advocacy.

In the UN system, the word ‘advocacy’ means many different things all at once.


It means conducting research and providing the information needed for governments and other key actors to act based on evidence and fact. It means providing direct support to governments as a partner for policy development and implementation.


It also means working with civil society, the media, the corporate sector, social movements and the public to help build the political environment for action.


All of these aspects of advocacy are essential elements of UN advocacy for SDG implementation.


The UN's Sustainable Development Goals recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.


The United Nation's 2030 Sustainable Development Goals include:

  1. No Poverty

  2. Zero Hunger

  3. Good Health and Wellbeing

  4. Quality Education

  5. Gender Equality

  6. Clean Water and Sanitation

  7. Affordable and Clean Energy

  8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

  9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

  10. Reduced Inequalities

  11. Sustainable Cities and Communities

  12. Responsible consumption and Production

  13. Climate Action

  14. Life Below Water

  15. Life on Land

  16. Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

  17. Partnership for the Goals

Local, National and Global Partnerships

UN agencies have long seen the value of coordination and collaboration where their goals and objectives intersect globally.


Coordination and collaboration has increased in a more focused way through initiatives such as Delivering as One and, important for advocacy, Communicating as One, as well as strengthening of the Resident Coordinator role at the country level around the world.


That coordination and collaboration has increased in a more focused way through initiatives such as Delivering as One and, important for advocacy, Communicating as One, as well as strengthening of the Resident Coordinator role at the country level around the world.


There is an international and human rights benefit to engage political support for embedding the SDGs into national plans and planning, which may involve establishing a monitoring and accountability mechanism with national, regional and local governments, at the start of SDG implementation.


The SDG's are useful for political lobbying and advocacy, and as global goals, there is consistency in referring to global standards which are recognised everywhere.


Of course, even the Sustainable Development Goals are incomplete and inefficient insofar as not being able to address all human rights matters, but, they address the key elements of basic human rights violations.


Community, national and even international consultation, round-table discussions, conferences with academics and even online contributions are all key to ensuring a collaborative effort to identifying the issues and coming up with innovative, strategic, measurable solutions.


Your Strategic Goals should Consider:


STEP ONE: Identify key influencers and power brokers with the authority to work with you towards meaningful, long-lasting, sustainable change.


Those you include in your advocacy project may be supportive, or opposed to a certain aspect of your position. Seek out those who are supportive, but do not ignore the opposition's voice, as you can use this as an indicator of matters which may need to be addressed.


STEP TWO: Determine each person's position, and their power and influence in relation to your goals, strategies, and desired outcomes.


You should also be aware of the level of power any given individual has in general, in their position, and on the matter you raise.


They may wield power in their orrganisaiton, but have no community influence.


The opposite may also be true.


Identify your key actors in the following ways:

STEP THREE: Based on your above mapping, determine your strategic priorities


ADVOCACY STRATEGY CHECKLIST:

Before you launch into your advocacy strategy, take a moment and workshop the following with your team ....

  1. Identify the major actors across the sector, especially politicians and community leaders, and understand their position on the matter;

  2. If your major actors are not yet on board - do not stress! Come up with a strategy to convince them: this may include preparing reports, statistics, testimonials or information packages for them. Meet with them personally to introduce this information to them;

  3. Analyse where the official authority resides to deliver your advocacy objectives;

  4. Put together solid political intelligence about where those key actors stand on the issue;

  5. Analysis the other key actors who could have influence over those with position, title or authority, and establish where they stand on your issue;

  6. Analysis which stakeholders you need help from in order to develop more power and influence to ensure a successful outcome; and

  7. Establish a clear sense of what actors might constitute a counterforce in opposition to your objective.


FIVE KEY IDEAS FOR PARTNER ENGAGEMENT

  1. Convene a Sustainable Development Goal alliance with civil society, the private sector, media contacts, community organisations, and other major stakeholders, such as community leaders, in order to co-create benchmarks for progress on advocacy;

  2. Help build the capacity of other allied actors by giving them tools, support, political and lobbying partnership opportunities for an effective advocacy campaign which reaches wider than just your contacts and networks;

  3. Create a domino effect by helping civil society allies engage and involve other groups and communities with whom they have strong connections, such as youth, rural people, women through conferences, seminars, round-table dialogues, online webinars, petitions, reports and other meaningful ways of collective contribution to the dialogue of the identified problem and the strategic proposed solution;

  4. Engage partners in advocacy for implementation and also in monitoring efforts to track progress; and

  5. Empower all stakeholders and specific partners to your advocacy campaigns by letting them take credit for advances rather than dominating in terms of visibility.


STEP FOUR: Determine your plan of action for success!


  • Consider: how you communicate your issue.

This is vital the success of any campaign.


The way you communicate your message could be the differnce between its' success or demise.


A successful communication campaign includes the clear communication of the problem, the proposed solution, and the pathway between the two which you propose.


A successful communication campaign also means that the right people are communicating the right message in the right way.


This may mean encouraging spokespersons such as ambassadors, victims, community leaders or others outside your organsiaiton to raise awareness of the problem or issue you wish to address.


This also means communicating statistics, facts and projections at the right time, in the right context and in the right way.


  • What will you do to advance your objectives?

WHAT may be relevant to you, your organisation or your stakeholders.


A clear plan of action and delegated responsibilities and clear updates and regular communication is all a part of delivering the WHAT.


Advancements need to be measurable, realistic and framed around milestones, goals and targets. These may be your own, or the collective whole.

  • What is your measure of success?

Success is subjective, and may not be achieved without clear, written and communicated milestones with timelines and delegated responsibilities clearly communicated with projected deliverables.


Success in the advocacy world is often slow, and may be frustrating at times.


Success at its heart is relational and educational in nature.


For all of the above, ensure that hyou have clear measurable for your organisation and your stakeholders and representatives for the WHY, WHAT, HOW WHERE WHEN of your advocacy campaign, categorised into political lobbying, human rights advocay and community education.


Success can also be measured by online and in person supporters via a petition and other means of feedback.


ADVOCACY STRATEGY CHECKLIST:


PLAN OF ACTION

  • Ensure that you and your stakeholders and representatives have devised a set of clear and powerful messages aimed at policymakers and the public that the entire team is able to repeat with ease, and often. A catch-cry is often useful here.


  • Ensure you have a plan for engaging the government and your local, state and federal parliamentarians.


  • Ensure you have a plan for engaging civil society, private sector and other main actors.


  • Ensure you have a plan for engaging the media.


  • Ensure you have a plan for engaging the public.


  • Ensure you have an evaluation plan for measuring your advocacy’s effectiveness.


STRATEGIES FOR ACTION:


ENGAGING THE PUBLIC is key to a successful advocacy campaign.


Communicate the reality gap in our issue, and you proposed theory of change.


Let people know what their governments signed up to deliver.


Educate the public about how your solutions are aimed to impact their lives in concrete ways and how the future of the resolution is tied to their government’s public policies.


Help create a sense of public ownership of the issues, by allowing the public to get involved by attending events, signing on-line petitions, being part of communication campaigns and getting involved in the solution-focused messaging.


Let the public know that the goals were created out of a set of consultations with the people and that it is up to them to push their implementation forward and monitor the progress by their governments and other key actors such as the private sector.


Create mechanisms for public engagement.


Encourage and create opportunities for people to be engaged directly through action campaigns, public-to-public educational activities and by creating subject-matter champions among key groups such as women, youth and vulnerable cohorts.


Advocacy in motion is difficult to evaluate because its progress comes in waves according tot he cycle of your campaign. Nevertheless, there are all kinds of inputs to advocacy success that can be identified, measured, and used to track your progress.


For example, before government officials formally adopt a change in policy, there are important precursors that can be tracked and measured – private statements of support, public statements of support, introduction of specific proposals in the legislative or executive branches, advancement of those proposals through the process and so forth.


Public attention, and more specifically media attention, social media attention and other measures of a growing audience and interest may also be applied.


If advocacy alliances are something that is key in your political context you can measure if your support coalition is growing and diversifying.


The measure of a successful advocacy campaign centres around your ‘theory of change’ upon which your advocacy rests, the political inputs that you believe are key to building power and winning the day.

EVALUATING ADVOCACY PROGRESS:


MEASUREABLES

Measurable for your advocacy campaign may shifty slightly depending on the cycle of your campaign, but in general, may include:


- Statements of support, including private and public expressions of support;

- Introduction of legislation or budget proposals reflecting your project suggestions;

- Increased public attention reflected in news articles and stories and social media;

- An increased number of allies both for the campaign, and those who understand the issue and the proposed solutions in a greater way;

- Activities that fit with your ‘theory of change’ in line with your strategic solutions; and

- Government approval of new laws or programs you have suggested in your campaigns.


REPETITION IS KEY

For a successful advocacy campaign, ensure that you are repeating your messaging - including education about the issue and proposing the solution.


Repetition can also take the form of repeating the type of advocacy campaign you have launched, and may include:

- Online petitions;

- Online surveys;

- Educational videos;

- Conferences;

- Seminars;

- Research projects;

- Collaborative round table consultations;

- Research paper publications;

- Campaign events;

- Meetings with key victims;

- Meetings with key stakeholders;

- Meeting with Politicians and community leaders;

- Online campaigns;

- Human rights advocacy;

- Political campaigning .... and other creative efforts ....


Once you have set up these particular events, it is important to hold them intermittently throughout the year, and regularly in key locations.


In Summary ....

Be clear about:


WHY you have taken up the cause


WHAT your identified issues are


HOW you propose to change it


WHO is communicating your message


WHEN you are running events to further the cause


WHERE your energy is best placed for maximum influence




- Use different strategies to advance the cause.


- Measure it and amend it accordingly.


- Repeat your strategy with clear, measurable realistic goals.


If you or your organisation needs Andrea Consults

to come and train you in the best way to advocate

or to come up with a advocacy strategy for your issue, make a booking here:





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