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Timing

VAW can, arguably, be considered a ‘permanent’ crisis, in that the promising progress that has been achieved over the last few decades in different areas, such as laws, policies, resource allocation, is still dwarfed by the magnitude of the problem worldwide. It remains an acute, urgent challenge in countries around the world.

It may seem therefore that anytime is a good time for a campaign on VAW, to continue to focus much-needed attention on the problem. Yet, the success or failure of campaigns can depend significantly on the timing of the campaign. Political events for instance, depending on their nature (e.g. elections, parliamentary debates), can distract public attention away from a campaign, or help fuel public interest in a campaign. For example, campaigners may time their campaign to influence electoral candidates’ platforms or pledges before elections are held; or government discussions, scheduled to take place around domestic violence and anti-trafficking legislation could be used as well-timed rallying points for campaigners (as has occurred in countries like Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia).

Example: In 2005, women’s groups in Thailand, led by the Foundation for Women, mobilized to campaign for a new domestic violence bill. The timing was considered right because Thailand was due for a CEDAW Committee review in early 2006, and would have to report among other things, its actions to tackle gender-based violence. The NGOs worked hand-in-hand with the National Commission on Women’s Affairs and Family Development to lobby with bill drafters, and provide them with critical data and information collected from their networks on the ground around the country. Immediately after the CEDAW review, the campaign focused on public outreach through an extensive media campaign intended to highlight concerns the CEDAW Committee had raised and use this to pressure legislators to include important provisions in the bill. Thailand’s Protection of Victims of Domestic Violence Act was signed into law in July 2007, and contained much of the provisions that campaigners had lobbied for.

Two aspects need to be considered to determine the timing of any campaign – the significance of the campaign issue and its likeliness to attract public attention and to influence the identified targets.

7 criteria to determine the timing of a campaign

 Adapted from the list developed by The Work Group for Community Health and Development of Kansas University Community Toolbox :

–        When there’s a crisis involving the issue

–        When the issue has reached a point where it can’t be ignored

–        When the number of people affected reaches critical mass

–        When new information calls to the issue

–        When a publication, or a media story not initiated by you, highlights the issue

–        When a crucial event makes your issue more visible

–        When the political time is right (e.g. when an election comes up)

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