What is an advocate?
By definition, an advocate is a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favour of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.
Not all advocacy is lobbying, but all lobbying is advocacy.
If an organization wants to get more involved in advocacy, it should inform about the current policies and problems affecting the community. You can be an advocate by educating policymakers about the needs of your organization and the people you serve and developing a relationship where you act as a trusted voice on policy issues.
That is why it is important to start with the original meaning of this word: the word “advocacy” comes from the Latin ‘advocare’ and literally means ‘to call out for support’. The origins of advocacy date back to ancient Rome and Greece when well-established orators would perform as advocates or wrote orations specifically for pleading someone’s cause. Personalities such as Cicero and Caesar were among the greatest Roman lawyers and advocates.
Why does advocacy is so important?
When done effectively, advocacy influences public policy by providing a conduit for individuals and organizations to voice an opinion. These efforts can, in turn, sway public opinion, garner press coverage, and ultimately provide policymakers with an opportunity to respond to constituents’ needs.
Advocacy seeks to ensure that all people in society are able to:
- have their voice heard on issues that are important to them
- protect and promote their rights
- have their views genuinely taken into consideration when decisions are being made about their lives
- have their views take into consideration when decisions are being made about their lives, and to express their views, thoughts and concerns
Advocacy is a process of supporting and enabling people to:
- Express their views, thoughts and concerns
- Access information, advice and guidance
- Explore choices and options for services and care
Advocacy vs. Lobbying
Policy advocacy is the process of negotiating and mediating a dialogue through which influential networks, opinion leaders, and ultimately, decision-makers take ownership of your ideas, evidence, and proposals, and subsequently act upon them. Keep in mind that these activities cross the line into lobbying if they call for action on introduced legislation or a pending regulation.
Lobby is normally associated with the actions of interest groups. Defined as those activities that target policy-makers with a view to influencing policy outcomes and bringing them close to the interests and goals of the lobbyists, the role of lobbying and how different interest groups manage to shape public policies is a crucial issue for scholars. Given its importance in terms of who wins/loses in politics and who influences whom, lobbying has thus generated a large number of studies that have tried to assess the influence of interest groups, to gauge the evolution of the lobbying population and to evaluate their role in terms of democratic accountability and/or biases that the system might have towards certain actors. Interestingly, lobbying does not only occur on issues of domestic policy, but foreign policy is an important aspect as well.
The lobbying activity helps to maintain and improve the public trust, trust in the democratic institution and the representation process of public politics.
What is an Advocacy Campaign?
An advocacy campaign is a set of actions targeted to create support for a policy or proposal. For example, the goals of an advocacy campaign may range from drafting and passing a new or amended law against domestic violence; to reforming the judicial system; to litigating a test case using international human rights standards in domestic courts; to monitoring the implementation of international human rights standards in a local context.
In conclusion – what is advocacy and how it can help?
If we try to describe advocacy and its original meaning, we come across many different definitions that are specific to particular countries, cultures, decades and political regimes.
Advocacy is a social change process affecting attitudes, social relationships and power relations, which straightens civil society and opens up democratic spaces.
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