Advocacy in all its forms seeks to ensure the fact that the vulnerable people in society are able to have their voice heard, defend and safeguard their rights as well as have their views be taken into consideration for decisions being made about their lives. Advocacy can have far-reaching positive impacts. It enables people to not only defend and promote their rights but also to access information and services. The several different forms of advocacy all have one thing in common- an approach to initiate change in society.
Social Justice Advocacy
One of the most known kinds of advocacy is social justice advocacy, defined as formulated efforts aimed at persuading the attitude of the public, their policies and laws in order to devise a society that is more just, navigated by the vision of human rights. It upholds the goal of promoting social inclusion and encouraging social change and empowering people to exercise their rights. Organisations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) are working towards promoting justice, empowerment and liberation.
Legislative advocacy uses direct lobbying as its most common form. This sub-genre of advocacy revolves around measures to introduce, effectively implement and iterate on legislation. It can involve a multitude of tasks such as working on the wording of a bill with a legislator, communicating views on a particular issue, all-encompassing the reliance on state legislative process as a part of the strategy to create change.
Budget advocacy implies a strategic approach to influence government’s budget choices. This strategy aims at achieving outcomes such as healthier people, less poverty, etc. Effective advocacy builds towards these long-term goals by attaining smaller concrete goals such as increased budget allocations. Budget advocacy seeks to intervene in the “decision-making process” by changing policies and empowering people to make a change. It ensures proactive engagement of Civil Society Organisations to make the government more accountable and to promote transparency.
Health advocacy helps to promote patient’s health care rights and to change public health policies to enhance community health by focusing on policies that deal with the availability, safety and quality of healthcare. Health advocacy can assist people with services such as poor care, failure to diagnose a condition and the attitude of the staff. Lesser-known aspects were also discovered in an interesting post of nhs advocacy which stressed on legal support in the case of lack of information to the public. Organisations such as Engaging Communities Solutions provide services such as Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy, Care Act Advocacy and even Independent Mental Health Advocacy.
Special Education Advocacy
Special education advocacy focuses on the educational rights of students with disabilities. A special education advocate works on behalf of a student or their family to help them attain special education services. These advocates are familiar with policies and procedures pertaining to early intervention. They help review and explain individualized education programmes as well as specific evaluations to ascertain if the child’s education needs are being met. Organisations such as the National PTA are focused on special education advocacy.
Media advocacy is the use of any form of media to help promote an organisation’s specific goals, that come from the group’s mission and vision. It is the strategic use of media as a resource to advance a public or social policy initiative. It is used to motivate the public and policymakers to get actively involved. It can also help raise money for the issues at hand such as gang violence, shooting, racism, etc.
Any action taken by the public in large groups to influence and reform public policies in the form of petitions, demonstrations, etc is mass advocacy. An example can be seen in the pro-life vs pro-choice in America when in 2019 there were mass demonstrations and protests against an abortion ban policy given by over 30 states.
Interest Group Advocacy
Interest groups, also known as a special interest group, use different kinds of advocacy in order to influence public opinion and policy using direct lobbying. An interest group can have motivation for action, ranging from political, religious, or commercial positions. All groups share a desire to affect government policy in order to benefit their causes. Some examples are labour organisations, Christian Coalition, National Organisation for Women, environmental organisations, etc.
Self-advocacy is learning how to speak up for oneself and making one’s own decisions. It is usually used in the context of people with disabilities. Organisations such as Advocates for Autism help them learn how to get information and support for exercising their own rights. Self-advocacy is supported by others by using information that makes sense to the self-advocate and involving them in decisions that have a major influence in their life.
All these kinds of advocacies are working towards helping the vulnerable sections of society to be heard and to be a part of the reforms in public policies that will, in the end, benefit them and help safeguard their rights.