The success of advocacy depends in large part on the leadership and organization of those involved in the effort both those in formal and informal leadership positions. It is important to select an individual or two who have a passion for the issue and the organizational skills to accomplish the goal as the formal leaders. At the same time, the formal leaders need to recognize that other leaders will emerge from within the coalition and stakeholder groups, and that those leaders should be encouraged and supported in their work. At times, leaders may emerge whose goals are not in line with the overall advocacy strategy. When this occurs, it is important to discuss the diverging goals in private rather than in front of the target audience of the advocacy. The following leadership qualities should be sought:
(See: Women’s Human Rights Step by Step, Women, Law & Development International and Human Rights Watch, 121, 1997)
CASE STUDY: The Pacific Regional Rights Resource Team (RRRT) of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community initiated a three-year project in January 2009 entitled “Changing Laws, Protecting Women: Lobbying for Legislative Change in Violence Against Women.” The goal of the project is to improve legislation to protect women through the implementation of lobbying campaigns for violence against women (VAW) and family law reform in six Pacific Island Countries: Samoa, Tuvalu, Tonga, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, and Cook Islands. At the same time, the RRRT recognizes that passing laws alone will not ensure that women are protected from violence. Rather, the RRRT will build the skills within the various countries to ensure that the laws are effectively implemented and monitored. The RRRT has begun work on each of the three major outcomes, which are:
Since the project’s inception, the RRRT held a regional meeting in Nadi, Fiji attended by representatives from civil society and the government of nine Pacific Island Countries as well as ten observers. The RRRT has also identified core lobbying groups in the Solomon Islands, Nauru, and Kiribati following national consultations. Approximately 10-15 lobbyists per country trained to engage in policy advocacy in early 2010.
The RRRT recruited five country coordinators in partnership with the respective country’s governmental and non-governmental representatives and conducted an orientation and training in August 2009, which included a format for the collection of baseline data. In Kiribati, the RRRT worked with the country coordinator to collect baseline data.
Training has been provided to VAW regional stakeholders including lawyers, members of parliament, the Pacific Islands Law Officers’ Network, and the Pacific Parliamentarians on Population and Development. Training included a presentation of model legislation on VAW in comparison to the current status of legislation in the participating countries. While the project is not yet complete, it serves as an example of regional approach to legal advocacy work on violence against women.
See: “Changing Laws, Protecting Women: Lobbying for Legislative Change in Violence Against Women,” Project Document, 11 November 2008; “Changing Laws, Protecting Women: Lobbying for Legislative Change in Violence Against Women,” Progress Report, 31 January 2010 (on file with author).