“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
For many of us advocacy is something other people do, it is a job for big NGOs or for charismatic leader. But trying to influence those who make policies that affect our lives is something anyone can do. Indeed it is something all of us should do if we believe in a good cause and in a democratic form of government. Even if it could sound rhetoric , it is important to state that you can make a difference. At the very beginning it takes one person to initiate a change, even if later the real strength of a good advocacy campaign is mobilizing large numbers of people.
We all know that is hard to change laws and policies but is has been done over and over again in our history. We have lot of examples of important achievements obtained through advocacy: the power of the vote for women, the right to public education, equal rights for white and black people.
There are many reasons to engage in advocacy, but we can summarize three main good reasons to do it:
To solve specific problems through concrete changes in public policies and program
Advocacy focuses on solving specific problems related to social, economic, political or cultural realities. Citizen advocates develop plans and implement strategies and activities aimed at achieving concrete solutions to these problems. It is important to involve from the beginning the people who are affected by the problem that you wish to solve in order to reflect the priorities of the population and achieve real change in their daily life.
To strengthen and empower civil society
Advocacy, to the extent that it promotes social organization, alliance building, leadership formation and networking at the national and international levels, stimulates the strengthening and empowerment of civil society.
To promote and consolidate democracy
Advocacy implies a permanent relationship between civil society and the state. It is an important gauge of a genuine democracy. Engaging in advocacy is one way to strengthen citizen participation in decision-making about public policies and programs and to promote a transparent political culture.