May 4th, 2017
By Srushti Mahamuni
Successfully advocating for a cause is like baking a great chocolate brownie: anyone with the right ingredients can do it but making one that is perfectly gooey on the inside and crusty on the outside requires a great recipe and some skill. The recipe for successful advocacy is as follows.
- UN Security Council Resolution 2250
- Knowledge of the institution you want to bring your message to
- An advocacy strategy developed using the Chaordic path (keep reading to find out how to make your own)
- Keen interest in making young people’s voices heard on decision making platforms
- Knowledge of key concepts related to Youth, Peace and Security
- Good communication skills
- Efficient teamwork
- Follow up
- Positive determination
Preparation of your tools
1. UNSCR 2250
UNSCR 2250 is your most important tool in order to make young people’s voices heard on decision making platforms. You can learn more about the path to getting UNSCR 2250 adopted here. A comprehensive guide to 2250 can be found here, and you should also use this 2250 toolkit to make your baking and advocacy processes easier.
2. Know your audience
In order to make a good chocolate brownie, you need to know which chocolate to use, similarly to make the best impact with your advocacy, you need to know who your audience is. Although it may seem a daunting task at first, simplifying the European Union and Council of Europe to a family structure (as we did in the training to advocate in European regional context) may make it easier. Here is an example – EU institutions in 5 minutes.
3. Developing an advocacy strategy using the Chaordic Path
An advocacy strategy can be developed using any sound strategy development tool, however for this particular recipe we will use the chaordic path. The word chaordic comes from two words – chaos and order – so this path is about going from chaos to order.
Once you have understood the potential of your tools, it is time for the next step.
Polishing the ingredients
1. Keen interest in making young people’s voices on decision-making platforms
The fact that you are reading this blog post means that you already own this ingredient. More power to you! But interest is even more useful in advocacy when it is guides you to knowledge. Learn more about what is already being done in the direction that you want to take. Build partnerships and take lessons from different experiences. Remember, we are always stronger together than individually.
2. Knowledge of key concepts related to Youth, Peace and Security.
In order to be credible and gain legitimacy, especially as a young person doing advocacy, it is important to speak the language of the decision makers without sacrificing your core ideals and values. Never forget that this is just a balancing act in the process of advocacy, because being idealistic is the value young people provide for positive social change. Invest some time in learning about and understanding the different concepts related to youth peace and security. Spending time on details will help in building your confidence, a much needed skill in advocacy.
3. Good communication skills
Good communication skills are a key ingredient in successful advocacy. Some people are naturally gifted in persuasion and the ability to be engaging. However, these are skills that can be learned and improved upon. Good communication skills in advocacy also mean knowing how to stay calm and continue a conversation in a constructive manner. Anyone who has experience with advocacy knows that it’s not all rosy. Effective communication also involves being sensitive to your audience, and picking up on cues that may give you a leeway into your shared interests.
4. Efficient teamwork
Advocacy is not an individual endeavor. You and your message will be stronger when you work in a team, and reach other young people who might be interested in supporting you. However teamwork is not about showing up with a team and then making it a one person show. Every team member must have a role while delivering the message.
5. Follow up
Following up after a meeting is an important ingredient of successful advocacy. Always send an email thanking the person for the meeting. Keep up the commitments you made in your meeting, for example if you promised to send some documents or links, make sure to do that. Even if the meeting didn’t go so well and you left feeling disappointed, make sure to thank the person for their time in a follow up email. Follow up shows your audience that you are credible and professional, and you remind them of your message once again.
6. Positive determination and practice
Successfully advocating for a particular issue takes time and effort. It is difficult not to be disheartened after an unsuccessful meeting or a row of them. Nevertheless, it is important to keep your chin up and try again. The more you practice doing advocacy, the better you will get at it. Draw energy from your team and know that change is possible and it will happen because of young people like you!
Once you have mastered the tools and equipped yourself with the necessary ingredients for successful advocacy, and developed mad skills through practice, it’s time to go out there and successfully advocate for change or bake the perfect brownie! Also, remember to have fun with it!
Preparation time: 2 weeks to a few months (depending on how big a cake you want to bake)
Serves all of humanity.
From the 7th to 14th of April 2017, eighteen young peace builders from all over the world gathered in a quaint hostel in Brussels. UNOY Peacebuilders and two very competent trainers equipped us with the tools and ingredients to do successful advocacy. Participants of the training are currently developing a youth advocacy manual for peace, which will soon be available on the UNOY website.
About the author: Srushti Mahamuni is an anti capitalist, free spirited sorceress who strives to practice an intersectional- feminist, queer, anti-white-supremacist, decolonial politics. She was born and raised in Pune, India and grew up in France, the Netherlands and Congo and continues to grow evermore. Academically trained in gender studies she works to create an equal world for all. She blogs about an array of topics, ranging from sexuality, body politics to navigating complex identities in a changing world. Get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org
We are a global network strengthening sustainable youth-driven peacebuilding. We connect 70 youth peace organizations across 45 countries.
Our goal is to create a world where young people have the opportunity and skills to contribute to peace. We work to strengthen youth-led peacebuilding initiatives, facilitate a safe space for dialogue and conflict transformation, develop the organizational capacities of our members and to bring the voices of young people to policy makers on a regional and global level.