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How is Advocacy Defined?

At its core, advocacy is “the exercise of power by the citizenry in the face of the government’s power.”  Advocacy is a tool for real participation by citizens in decision-making by government and other powerful bodies. (See: Manual for Facilitators of Advocacy Training Sessions, Washington Office on Latin America, 12, 2001)

At the same time, advocacy must go beyond engaging the "citizenry" to engage both citizens and non-citizens.  This is particularly important in light of the instability in the world which internally displaces and causes citizens to flee their homes and countries in search of safety and security.  Women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence may find themselves in foreign countries as a result of war, having been trafficked for labor and/or sexual exploitation. They may be fleeing abusive spouses or partners or harmful practices which compromise their safety and lives. (See: International Human Rights Training Program Resource Manual, Equitas:  International Centre for Human Rights Education, 317, 2009)   

Advocacy may further be defined as:

Advocacy consists of both strategy and action to achieve an objective.  The objective of advocacy is the engagement of stakeholders in the decisions affecting them.  The actions to achieve the objective typically occur over time, and incrementally.  Rarely do non-governmental organizations achieve success the first time they undertake an advocacy strategy.  Rather, success must be achieved step-by-step through a persistent and long-term commitment to the advocacy goal. 

 

CASE STUDY: In Pakistan, landmark legislation protecting women against sexual harassment in the workplace passed nearly a decade after civil society advocacy began their efforts. [Cross link to Sex Harassment Section] The Alliance Against Sexual Harassment (AASHA) in Pakistan, a coalition of six women’s groups, began their advocacy process by conducting a comprehensive review of laws and policies from Pakistand and jurisdictions around the world related to sexual harassment, with a specific focus on countries similar to Pakistan for social, political, or geographic reasons. After gathering this background information, AASHA began an in-depth situational analysis of sexual harassment in the workplace. The situational analysis focused on workers in specific fields, including nursing, sales and marketing, domestic workers, and agricultural workers. After reviewing the background information and data, AASHA drafted a proposed Code of Conduct for Gender Justice at the Workplace.  After review by legal experts, the draft code was submitted to the Ministry of Women’s Development. A series of regional consultations on the draft were held around Pakistan. Other partners joined the process, including the Ministry of Labor and the International Labour Organisation. This process culminated in a National Technical Meeting on the Code of Conduct, during which experts and other stakeholders gave input on the draft. A final draft of the code emerged from these meetings.

Advocacy did not stop there. AASHA and its partners worked with a small number of employers in Pakistan that voluntarily tested the code in their workplaces. Then, the group worked with employers across Pakistan to encourage them to adopt the code. Those employers that became involved were listed on AASHA’s website as progressive supporters. The code was incorporated into a draft law that was ultimately endorsed by the cabinet in 2008 and passed in 2010. Moreover, through annual meetings with women workers from across Pakistan, it became clear that changes to the penal code were also needed to ensure protections for workers in the informal sector in particular. AASHA proposed such a change, and a revision to the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure was passed in 2009. See: Summary of the Process through which The Code of conduct was drafted, Alliance Against Sexual Harassment; Raja Asghar, Pakistan clears landmark bill against sexual harassment, Jan. 22, 2010; Nosheen Abbas, Sexual Harassment in Pakistan, Dec. 16, 2009.