What is Advocacy?
There is no single definition of advocacy, but a working definition could be: “Advocacy is a process of influencing selected people or institutions in order to achieve changes in policies, practices, behaviors or political beliefs that will benefit particular groups of people”.
- Advocacy is a process because it involves a series of inter-related steps that take you from the identification of an issue, to the satisfactory resolution of that issue. It is a process that can take time and patience but is usually well worth the effort.
- Advocacy is a process of influencing law-makers and representatives of public institutions and businesses who are in a position to resolve a particular issue.
- Advocacy’s goal is to bring about changes in law or mandatory guidelines, public behavior and political perspectives concerning your advocacy issue
- Advocacy benefits all people: the marginalized and the mainstream
We should advocate when we see a gap between societal ideals and realities. For instance, when the ideal for a society is to achieve the highest levels of education and the reality is that an overwhelming percentage of society is locked out of achieving this ideal there is a gap between societal ideals and societal realities and there is a need to advocate. We should advocate so that the most vulnerable among us can equally share in a hopeful vision for the future. Advocacy is not about pitting the poor against the rich; it’s not about taking away from one group to give to the other; it’s about creating a fair society; it’s about evening out the playing field between society’s dominant groups and all of its subordinate groups.
What are some example of successful Advocacy?
- All international humanitarian and rights – based laws which were non-existent before the 19th century have been written and recognized as a result of advocacy by hundreds of NGOs from around the world.
- Advocacy has also influenced changes in practices and protocols. In the United States, advocacy groups for victims of domestic violence have educated and trained law enforcement officers who are first responders on the scene of domestic violence. Training has helped these officers develop more effective methods in forensic observation and in ultimately keeping e victims safe.
- Advocacy has been used in influencing changes in the behaviors of majority groups to benefit more vulnerable minority groups. When women’s groups insisted that businesses in America make sexual harassment on the job, grounds for termination of employment, there was a marked change in the behaviors of male managers towards their female subordinates and counterparts.
Who can Advocate?
You can! Anyone can. Advocacy is about caring enough about social, economic and political issues that have the potential to either negate or affirm human rights and gender equality. The practice of Advocacy is easily learnt.
In fact, we would like you to join the WG-USA member community in advocating for our priority issues Trafficking, Education, Violence Against Women, Women, Peace and Security, Ratification of CEDAW
If additionally there are other issues that are close to your heart, you can also advocate for them as an individual or in collaboration with other organizations
What can I advocate about?
You can advocate for any or all socio-economic and political issues that impact you personally and/or professionally. You can also advocate for domestic and global issues that may not impact you but may touch your heart. Your advocacy may target your state government, the US government, The United Nations, other multi-lateral institutions like the World Bank and on occasion the governments of other countries
When do I Advocate?
You can advocate year – round but there is a greater probability of success if you advocate along with other individuals and groups as this creates a unified request with greater impact on law and policy-makers. We usually send email alerts with instructions for action to our members when US law-makers are considering a bill that is relevant to our priorities.
What can advocacy do for the advocates?
- Advocacy is an inherently educational process. Advocates help law and policy makers to see issues from a different perspective. They are the vanguard of the preservation and enhancement of human rights. They alone are responsible for opening up a space for dialogue and discussion with law and policy – makers. Advocates are valued members of society.
- Advocacy has been known to empower the advocates themselves. When advocates become subject matter experts in a particular issue, when they become knowledgeable about the driving and resisting forces that impact issues; skilled at negotiations; in building coalitions, in understanding how laws get passed and when they begin to think more strategically, all knowledge and skills translate into valuable personal and professional growth.