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What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is defined by the International Advocacy Campaign as “taking action to help people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and obtain the services they need.” While this may seem like it requires special skills or talent, the truth is that most of us have some advocacy experience from our daily lives. As parents, friends, family members, citizens, employers and employees, whether we do it for ourselves or on behalf of others, we have all made use of advocacy at one time or another.

There are many people in society who are ignored and have difficulty in gaining the attention that is needed to make sure their views and opinions are listened to and acted upon. This leads to them being marginalized and socially excluded. Advocacy is a safeguard for people who are socially marginal, discriminated against or otherwise ignored against even further social or political isolation. Through an advocate, advocacy provides the means to redress a social imbalance of power by providing a mixture of: support; indicating how events are likely to develop and providing advice on what course of action should be taken; providing links to other services; sharing information and knowledge to support decision making; and being a ‘voice’ to ensure that people’s rights and opinions are respected. Advocacy also helps people to: develop confidence and assertiveness to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction; become empowered, find strength in numbers and to actively engage in the political, social and economic spheres of their communities.

Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: Advocacy and Non Violent Action
Part 3: Gandhi: Advocacy and Non-violence
Part 4: Advocacy, Non-Violence and You