Islamists, Leftists – and a Void in the Center Afghanistan’s Political Parties and where they come from (1902 – 2006)

Advocacy is a strategy that is used around the world by non-governmental organizations, activists and even by the policy makers themselves, to influence policies. A policy is a plan, course of action, or set of regulations adopted by government, business or and institution, designed to influence and determine decisions or procedure. Advocacy is a means to an end, another way to address the problem that we aim to solve through other programming strategies.

Advocacy is the deliberate process of influencing those who make policy decisions.

Advocacy will always:

Address discrimination everywhere in all of its forms.
Improve the livelihood of significant number of people.
Target policy makers and implementers at levels above the household.
Be rooted in organization’s field experiences and core values.
Strengthen capacity for self-help.
Deliver relief in emergencies.

Different ideas about advocacy

Advocacy is about influencing the decision makers. Many people’s preconception is that advocacy is confrontational or shouting. It is most important that advocacy should not have to be confrontational. It has much wider range than of thinking.

Advocacy is a deliberate process, involving intentional actions. Therefore, before implementing advocacy strategies it must be clear who you are trying to influence and what policy you wish to change.

Advocacy is a relatively new strategy for organizations or institutions. Many of the international developing organizations and partners rely on advocacy in their work and may have good advocacy ideas and skills to share.

Advocacy is the process of using information strategically to change policies that affects the lives of disadvantaged people. Increasingly Southern NGOs are developing advocacy skills to challenge local, national and international polices. This involves strengthening the structure through which poor people can participate in the formulation of the policies that control their lives.

Edwards (1993) provides the following definition of advocacy:

The aim is to alter the ways in which power, resources and ideas are created, consumed and distributed at the global level, so that people and organizations in the South have a more realistic chance of controlling their own development. He further suggests that NGOs attempt following two advocacy approaches. These are:

Abolitionist approach- which targets the political level of institutions

This approach attempts to influence global processes, structures and ideologies. This approach takes on massive interest groups and requires a huge base of support if it is to achieve its aims.

Reformist approach- which targets the technical and regional level of institutions

This approach attempts to influences specific policies, programs and projects. It involves targets which are more open to constructive dialogue but requires a high level of technical knowledge based on practical experience if the views of the NGO are to be taken seriously.

What Advocacy is not?
The kind of advocacy that are discussing in this manual relates to influencing the decisions of policy makers. It doesn’t mean the extension of work of any organization or launching a public campaign to change specific practices. It doesn’t inform the government about the organization. It never raises public awareness about the organization or fund-raising activities.

Thomas Ruttig About the author
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