Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Collective Advocacy: Leverage Because She is Not Alone

“Unless you draw on women’s expertise and also use women as planners … and any marginalized group, you’re leaving chips on the table.”

The NGO CSW session of March 14, 2016, “The Power of Women and Girls’ Voices: New Directions in Collective Advocacy,” gathered together leaders from Women Thrive Worldwide, Rural Women’s Network Nepal, Forum for African Women Educationalists, Generation Initiative for Women and Youth Network Nigeria, and World Learning.

One of the panelists lauded Women Thrive Worldwide for the NGO’s success at lobbying the UN to include equitable, inclusive, and quality education, rather than simply access to education, as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for these next 15 years. This is a clear example of the result of collective advocacy, of listening carefully to the voices of those affected by education that fails on indicators of these qualities.

Women Thrive Worldwide communicated 5 major lessons about how collective advocacy can be used most powerfully at the global level:

1. Building relationships among coalition members is critical.
2. Evidence-based messaging is powerful.
3. Diversity of advocates makes the collective voice more relevant.
4. Research, training, coaching, tools, and engagement should be concerted, representative, and 
5. Advancing the priorities and solutions of women and girls living in poverty, especially, is a top 
    goal for NGOs as they meet directly with decision-makers and stakeholders.

One of the panelists asserted the following:

“You have unique capability when you draw on those voices; you have authenticity that leads to a power persuasion that no one can match; third, you eliminate tremendous amounts of talent [if leaving them out]. Unless you draw upon them for advocacy, you’re not credible.”

Certainly, women and girls, and any other group suffering inequality and its blight on the human soul, do know what is best for themselves. Their voices must be heard, and they must matter.

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