Effective Action for Political Advocacy

A woman in a wheelchair speaks into a microphone and holds a laptop in her lap. A woman writes on a flip chart in the background.
What does it take to be an effective advocate? Connecting with others and building your knowledge base is a good starting place.

Whether you are a new or well established activist, these basic actions can strengthen your advocacy skills. Let us know what other actions have led you to successful advocacy.

  1. Come together for a stronger voice! Advocacy groups for different causes exist for good reasons as their priorities and issues can be unique. However, coming together around common issues will amplify your collective voice. Consider joining or building an advocacy coalition to collaboratively and effectively work towards shared goals and objectives from an inclusive framework.
  2. Establish your talking points in advance and know the specific action items you want. Whoever you are meeting, it is essential that you clearly articulate the specific support you are requesting. If you are too general, people may not be able to imagine the type of support that you have in mind. Have your goals and expectations written down and reference them throughout the meeting to stay on target.
  3. Affirm commitment with relentless follow up. Ask officials or allies for a specific task or action to be taken up, and follow-up with letters, phone calls, meetings, and other strategies to make officials and your allies accountable and active on the actions they promised.
  4. Seek out regional examples and case studies to showcase. Government officials can be more responsive to pressures and examples from regional neighbors.
  5. Know your legal protections and the enforcement mechanisms. Deepen your knowledge on disability and human rights laws and their application. You will be better informed and more convincing in discussions with diverse stakeholders. Be familiar with the systems in place to document and report human rights violations and to file complaints with the government.
  6. Include human rights lawyers. This will raise awareness of disability within the human rights paradigm and the importance of human rights lawyers to accurately interpret and apply disability law.
  7. Learn what motivates your government and use that as your leverage point. If your government wants visibility of its commitment to disability rights, consider inviting officials to speak at a public event to showcase their support.
  8. Learn from other underrepresented groups about strategies that have proven successful to advance the human rights agenda. These groups (women, people from indigenous, ethnic and religious minorities, etc.) can provide insightful lessons learned and methods that have worked well or proven ineffective. Give yourself a head-start by gathering this background information and focusing your efforts on tried-and-true approaches for your local context.