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Model policies and research reports for advocacy

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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Model policies

Model policies provide guidance for politicians and institutional decision-makers on how to translate your campaign goal into reality. Model policies can be good complements to policy briefs, going a step further to illustrate just how policy recommendations could be translated into new or amended actual policies.

Why use model policies?

  • Developing alternative policy solutions enables campaigners to lead debates, rather than just react to government proposals.
  • A policy proposal may be a key step towards a cooperative, productive relationship with policy makers.
  • Institutions that are not specialized in VAW and gender issues may need competent advice.
  • Agreeing on a well-defined policy or proposition of change clarifies and focuses your campaign.

Bear in mind:

  • Start with research on existing relevant policies so as to build on positive elements. Ensure research is thorough and firmly based on facts and figures pertaining to existing policies and their enforcement or implementation. This will lend needed credibility to whatever new (or amended) policy is being proposed.
  • Keep it simple and clear, so that it can be disseminated widely and understood easily by different people from different backgrounds within your target audience.
  • After it lands in the hands of primary targets i.e. key decision-makers, follow up with other advocacy and communication tools such as lobbying, organizing a press conference or petition etc. to draw attention and reinforce key messages.
A good example that can serve as an inspiration in a variety of contexts is Making the Grade, a model policy developed by Action Aid and OSISA in 2007 for the prevention, management and elimination of violence against girls in school in Southern Africa.

Research reports for advocacy campaigns 

Original or synthesized research reports and other specialized publications present the campaign issue and your recommendations for action in a detailed, evidence-based manner, and serve as a reference to campaigners, policy-makers, service-providers and other stakeholders. Like policy briefs and model policies, the distribution or sharing of the report is as important as its content. The time, energy and campaign resources spent on producing a quality report may be wasted if it is not  accompanied by a deliberate strategy to ensure that it gets read and receives the necessary attention, particularly by primary targets.

When to publish an advocacy report?

  • If quality research has been conducted that can contribute previously unknown findings pertaining to the campaign issue – for example, reliable data demonstrating that certain forms of VAW are more widespread than generally assumed.
  • If it can realistically be expected that many people, especially those whose action is crucial to attain the campaign goal, will be interested in the information and will read the report. For example, a high quality report on VAW crimes related to a case under investigation at the International Criminal Court has good chances to be used as a piece of evidence.
  • If sufficient resources are available – if no dedicated researchers can be hired to produce a high quality report, findings on the issue may be published in a less complex format, e.g. in the form of a short policy brief.

Main elements of a research report

  • Title page –the title must raise interest and give an indication of the issue addressed; attractive design of the front and back covers should include logos of organizations that have contributed to the report.
  • Executive summary in 1-3 pages - include the major facts you address and the actions you call for – who do you want to do what, when and where?
  • Table of contents
  • Main body of the report: write in a straightforward, professional style. Use catchy titles, photographs, graphs, text boxes (e.g. with personal testimonies) and other visual means to capture the reader’s attention. Tailor your style to the people you speak to.
  • References – quote your sources and list them at the end of the report.
  • Imprint – i.e. information on the authors, the publisher and contact details, the date and place of publication, any copyright information and, for books, the international booksellers’ number (ISBN).
  • Depending on the nature of the report, it may include annexes (e.g. detailed statistics sheets, any key law texts the audience needs to read, or the draft law or model policy you propose); a section on methodology (in research reports); acknowledgements to contributors, supporting organizations and donors; introductions or greeting notes by prominent supporters or sponsors.

Distributing the report:

  • Publicize your report via press and/or through launch events to bring public attention to its findings.
  • Refer to it in public communications and make it easily available, e.g. via your website.
  • Send copies to (i) government agencies and other decision-makers you wish to reach, (ii) your media contacts, and consider organizing a press conference for the report release, (iii) NGOs and appropriate academic institutions.
  • Use it as a lobbying tool with policy-makers: ask for a meeting to discuss the report.


Bear in mind:

  • Before starting your own research, review what has already been done and refer to it in the report where appropriate.
  • Ensure high quality by basing the report on carefully designed research and credible, properly referenced sources.
  • As with all publications, check and double-check the facts before you publish a report. Any errors or misrepresentations may damage your credibility.


Examples of high quality research reports:

Amnesty International report Safe Schools – Every Girls’ Right (2008)

ECPAT global monitoring reports (Agenda for Action) on commercial sexual exploitation of children and related issues (available in several languages, including Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, English, French, Khmer, Russian, Spanish, Thai and Turkish).

The Cost of Violence against Women and their Children by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Australia (2009).

International Criminal Court Gender Report Cards produced by the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, which analyze the implementation of the gender mandates of the Rome Statute.