In between speaking engagements and public appearances, I’m often asked what is advocacy and what does it mean to be an advocate ? Well, for me it’s quite simple. Advocacy is telling your story to a decision or policy maker, it’s about persuading stakeholders and interested parties about why it is important to advance a particular cause.
Generally, advocacy is active support of a cause, idea or a policy – a set of organised (planned) activities designed to influence the policies and actions of others to achieve positive changes for the Transgender community based on the experience and knowledge (evidence) of working directly with Transgender people, their friends, allies and wider communities.
We’re all capable of being an advocate for our community. Each of us have valuable experiences to share in a message to and for our community which can inspire, defend or motivate others.
The Goal of Advocacy
Advocacy aims to make the decision-making process which impacts the focus group (in our case the Transgender Community) more inclusive, democratic, respectful and useful. The output of this process should be policies which have a positive impact on the focus group.
The Dos and Don’ts of Advocacy
- Advocacy should not be ‘added on’ to what you do, but should be based on your work and everyday activities in order to be authentic.
- The goal of advocacy on should be to offer credible positive alternatives to the status quo.
- Advocacy aims to change specific policies affecting a marginalised group, creating political space.
- It is directed at those who have the power to influence others’ lives: the goal is institutional change.
- Advocacy requires clear goals and measurable objectives.
- Advocacy is a long-term process rather than a one-off event, and is not an end in itself.
- It is a part of your work. Advocacy is based on evidence from your work and experience (“experience/evidence based advocacy”).