What is Advocacy?

There are several ways in which people can pursue their rights and have their ideas heard by those who draw up public policies in Brazil. One of these modalities is through advocacy. In this article, we will learn more in depth about how it works and its role to the strengthening of the citizenship in a country so little accustomed to with the popular participation beyond elections every two years.

What is advocacy

First, it is important to understand what is advocacy. The meaning of the word comes from the Latin advocare, meaning to assist someone who is in need. In English, the term is derived from the verb to advocate. However, it is noteworthy that in the literal translation to the Portuguese Language, the expression indicates to litigate, much more legal, and outside of the context of what it really the concept of advocacy represents the inside of what we’re addressing here.

Advocacy has the meaning most close to the defense and the argument in favor of a cause. This is a claim process that aims to influence decision-makers in the formulation and implementation of public policies to meet of fact, everything that the population needs for your well-being.

In many cases, the population faces problems that repeat themselves and that, however, are not solved by the rulers of our cities, states and country. Many times, the absence of public policies perpetuates the recurrence of numerous problems, which leave citizens dissatisfied. However, they do not know how to appeal to this change.

There are several reasons for that such issues not be resolved. Among them may be your own ignorance of that fact on the part of the public power, or even that this question is not considered a priority at the moment, what typically frustrates the citizen, who will always find their most pressing need. There are cases in which you do not know the solution to the problem, or there is simply no budget to meet this challenge. But it can also be a problem of lack of political will to address the obstacles and propose improvements to society.

The importance of advocacy is precisely in the fact that he can face all these issues and can modify them the truth. This can occur through the exposure of the problems and needs existing in society, is showing the importance of that theme with data, reports and reliable sources. It is also possible to suggest improvements and solutions with the support of specialists in the area and also research enriching.

Another point attacked by the advocacy is to try to have an influence on the planning budget, demonstrating the importance of increasing the resources in the area of greatest need. Finally, it is possible to also press authorities, policy makers agenda and decision makers to dialogue and to adopt public policies for the resolution of certain problems.

In this way, the advocacy helps to modify the democracy, going far beyond the process of discussing, formulating, or implementing public policies. The advocacy enables the expansion of participation and representation of groups that typically end up being excluded from the political processes of decision-making. To do with that they are ensured the rights of these citizens, the advocacy strengthens democracy in society.This occurs because, when the civil society gain more power and operates more participatory and citizen in the discussions for decision-making, is consolidating a political culture more strong, democratic and transparent, in addition to, of course, of participatory.

Who does and how to do advocacy?

The word advocacy is used to describe the actions of pressure that are employed by organizations engaged in civil society that represent a cause any. Therefore, it is paramount that anyone who does advocacy, that is, the organization claiming to represent a cause, has legitimacy before the groups working in this area.

Such credibility can be obtained from an increasing involvement of the organization with the public of the cause, by means also of a commitment to accurate with the demands of that group, and with strategies and actions, advocacy quite transparent. The integration between the leaders and members of interest groups is also of fundamental importance, as well as the use of information arguments reliable when the presentation of proposals for improvements to the citizens.

To understand how to do advocacy, it is important that it occurs always according to the possibilities existing within the political context in which one group of persons and organizations are embedded. For example, each country has a specific legislation on the form of participation in the formulation of public policy, by limiting or even increasing the access of persons who may, legally, to collaborate, to change a law.

In addition, the advocacy has the goal of expanding the opportunities for the exercise of this pressure, and participation in decision-making. In this way, the own advocacy, as well as the participatory structure that already exists, end up influencing at the same time.

We have some examples of advocacy that can be considered for illustration. It is the case of the act of making pressure on decision-makers or participate in demonstrations, protests and strikes. It is also possible for the part of councils, committees, forums, campaigns, among others, that give the group a powerful institutional presence before the public authorities and the other bodies of the society.

Understand the difference between advocacy and lobbying

The wrong way, the words advocacy and lobbying are often used as synonyms. However, there are substantial differences between the two, although there is indeed a setting that the separate so categorical. Because, there is no law today which regulates lobbying in Brazil.

In the strategy used to influence a decision-maker, for example, in the lobby, there is the direct contact of a lobbyist with the decision-maker, whether oral or written. Already in their advocacy, are the insider strategies of indirect influence, mobilizing the public opinion to that fact.

In regard to the nature of public policy, the lobby is concerned with the interests of groups or specific customers, while at the advocacy the focus is on the areas of interest in broader, related to major societal causes.

The lobbyists are most sought after by private companies and industry associations and professionals. Already in the advocacy, the relationship with Ngos and organized movements of civil society.

Lobbyists tend to represent the interests of agribusiness, the pharmaceutical industry and the bankers. Already the members of the advocacy represent entities that fight for the environment, for human rights and for the eradication of slave and child labor.

The lobbyists have already made, for example, meetings with members of the government or of the Congress, have produced suggestions that were incorporated into law and acted on the financing of campaigns. On the side of advocacy, it has occurred to public pressure with the help of the mobilization of citizens, resulting in proposals of law projects and a greater engagement of the people by various causes.

It is believed, therefore, that the advocacy can generate a greater awareness among the people about the thing public, enabling greater engagement between other actors, causing these to press who makes the decision. In this way, a campaign of advocacy may have the actions of the lobby (for example, a direct communication with the decision-maker), but is not restricted to this way of working.

A very recent example of the lobby is in the taxi drivers, who have come together to try to prevent the app Uber to offer the service of private transport in several brazilian cities. In the case of advocacy in Brazil, a typical example of this method of operation has occurred in the political pressures by the Alliance to Control Tobacco, which merged to the approval of the smoke-free law 2011.

Another example of the use of advocacy in Brazil is done by the feminist movement, which was important for the creation and approval of the Maria da Penha Law. A true consortium in that it involved Ngos, operators of Law, servers of the public security and the Secretariat of Policies for Women has elaborated the draft of the bill in 2004 and continued pressing until the approval of the text, in 2006.

The advocacy in the third sector is an instrument that is very strong practice to help influence in causes that are important that tend to have broad interest, and require large participation of the society.

For example, the Civil Society Organization (CSOS), Gapa-Bahia, which operates with people in situations of vulnerability, achieved a great victory in 2010, thanks to a strong advocacy work. With the participation of civil society in a public hearing aimed to discuss public policies on HIV/Aids, was set the creation of a Commission-Sectoral hiv and Aids. This work has made possible numerous advances in the area, such as the hiring of more health professionals to meet the people that have HIV/Aids.

Another famous case, this time international, has been the movements and organizations that defend women that have had a fundamental role in the 1990s, influencing governments, agencies linked to the United Nations and the media itself. All of this enabled the achievement of numerous international conferences and the establishment of commitments made by various countries.An example of practical action resulting from this action is at the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna, Austria, in 1993, the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, and also at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, in 1995.