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AWN represents Afghan women in the political and social arenas through its Advocacy and Lobbying efforts and has placed Advocacy as its first priorities on national level to support Afghan Women’s empowerment in light of AWN core strategies.
Different theorists, researchers, educationists and social workers conceptualized term “Advocacy” in many different ways, But In the context of AWN as well as organization strategic plan/goals, advocacy is the deliberate process, based on demonstrated evidence, to directly and indirectly influence decision makers, stakeholders and relevant audiences to support and implement actions that contribute to women’s empowerment within Afghanistan.
AWN fulfills the function of a network of organizations, as well as undertaking its own projects addressing issues such as gender-based violence, youth empowerment and girl’s education. Moreover, AWN represents and promotes the voices and perspectives of the Afghan women in political and social arenas through its Advocacy and Lobbying Department. AWN, as the voice of the Afghan women, pressurizes the leaders of Afghanistan for legislative reforms to protect and promote women’s rights and concerns. For instance AWN through its advocacy efforts could able to have their direct and indirect contribution in passing the EVAW Law, Regulation of safe house, Elections law and many other initiatives where AWN has its direct and indirect contribution for the Afghan Women’s empowerment and improvement of their situation.
AWN is carrying out advocacy initiatives since inspection to safeguard women’s rights in Afghanistan, and ensure that women are represented in creating a string and stable Afghanistan. The Strategic Plan 2015-17 indicates that 1) Women’s Political Participation and leadership 2)Women’s Social and Legal Protection and 3) Women, Peace and Security are the three main focused areas of the organization Which forms the basis for AWN advocacy, thus advocacy is foundation of the AWN programs.
Effective lobby and advocacy requires systematic strategy, in order to precede an effective advocacy and to use of opportunities to get our goals, it is always good to ask before conducting the advocacy and lobbing activities: Why are we carrying out this activity? Why are we targeting those decision-makers? And to follow this up with the questions: Does it contribute to achieving our objectives? To be more efficient and to prevent us from getting distracted, it is vital to have a clear strategy available for all those involved in advancing of the AWN Advocacy program, and also it will help us to set realistic goals and promote strategic thinking. It will also help assess the impact of specific lobby and advocacy activities.
To facilitate strategizing on lobby and advocacy, AWN’s Advocacy Department prepare its Advocacy annual plans in light of AWN Advocacy Policy and AWN Advocacy Toolkits which support us preventing of being distracted by other more ad hoc activities, which help in managing organization’s advocacy & lobbying activities throughout the year and also stimulate and encourage our members to cooperate with each other in achieving the intended goals. As such, the use of proper advocacy plans contributes to a better coordination and more effective lobby and advocacy, AWN initiates the following three types of advocacies in terms of women’s rights and empowerment.
Speaking for, representing the interests of, or defending the rights of women to defend their rights. AWN is to advocate for Afghan Women’s rights. Often, AWN is participating in case advocacy if they see that some broad principle is involved or that the case will set a precedent.
Systems Advocacy, refers to advocacy initiatives in the context of organizations/agencies or community that will influence programs and practices to benefit women/girls. All systems advocacy is generated by case advocacy. When it is clear that policies and practice in agencies interfere with the quality of life and development of women and girls, then systemic advocacy is required.
Policy advocacy refers to advocacy tactics, strategies and initiatives which target changes to policies and legislation. These advocacy initiatives seek to establish new policies, improve existing policies or challenge the development of policies that diminish resources and opportunities for vulnerable groups of people such as women and girls. Policy generally refers to 'social' policy. Policy advocacy seeks to engage various sectors of the government which includes: public servants, bureaucrats, political.
2. AWN ADVOCACY PLANNING PROCEDURE:
The AWN advocacy planning procedure enables AWN Advocacy Department as well as other departments to present fundamental decisions and actions in a systematic way on the strategic focus areas, other relevant advocacy issues and joint advocacy with its partner organizations. Advocacy department based on its mandate conduct advocacy over the issues, whether it is carrying out (individually by AWN or together with member organization), before moving ahead, Advocacy department conduct internal coordination meeting within involved departments to develop customized plan based on the underneath advocacy cycle and share their designed activities with advocacy department and other involved member organizations.
AWN according to the strategic plan for 2015-2017 is focusing the following three areas;
1. Women’s Political Participation
2. Women’s Legal & Social Protection
3. Women, Peace & Security
In this connection, AWN is contributing in terms of advocacy to increase the women’s political participation in political leadership (national, regional, provincial and even district level) as well as striving to support of the candidates and voters that will protect women rights, and will contribute to eliminate violence against women, traditional practices of early and force marriages. AWN is also supporting women’s legal and social protections as well as Women participation in peace process through regular and sustainable civic movements based on its designated prior strategies.
In addition with, organization will monitor and advocate for the policies and practices to protect women’s rights and initiate for women’s empowerment with equal participation in socio-economic, socio-political and peace initiatives.
Problem & Policy Issue Identification:
As mentioned above AWN takes initial steps of planning advocacy activities in order to identify the issues/problem that needs to be addressed, whereas AWN Advocacy Department is the first source for taking the issue and plan activities in light of the organization policy, this procedure is heading below four steps for complete advocacy cycle .
Step 1: Listing Issues and Problems
The first step after the identification of problem is to list all concern issues and policy problems, The problem identification and priority issues related women’s rights is identifying through different ways including consultation with network member, civil society, MoWA and Media.
2: Prioritizing Problem & Issue:
Later, with the identification of problems and issues related to women’s socio-economic & political, protection and equal participation in different sectors at all level, the AWN Advocacy Department with the consultation of line departments is prioritized and develop a list accordingly.
During the internal consultation meeting, the identified women’ right issues and problems is discussing and placed in the list based on the priority level. Consequently, AWN Advocacy Department with the support of Networking and communication Department conduct consultation meetings with the network members, civil society, MoWA, media and line departments to prioritize the identified issue/problem based on causes and effects along with other prioritization factors. During the meeting AWN collect the participants’ recommendation and suggestions on the identified and prioritized issues and problems. All these consultation meetings are the foundations of developing annual advocacy plan.
Step 3: Defining Analysis Methodology
Upon the identification and prioritization practice, the AWN Research and Advocacy Departments with consultation are defining analysis tools, strategy and methodology to understand the issue in depth and undertake advocacy initiatives with evidence.
Step 4: Analyzing Identified Issues/Problems
Subsequently, the AWN Research Department with the support and assistance of other line departments analysis the already identified problems and issues and share information of polices at national and international level, practices, cultural and social context of the issues, attitude and behaviors of public.
The way forward for Advocacy and lobbing
A.Conducting the Advocacy
Common advocacy methods are often used to enforce changes by making demands. Most of the time these methods are primarily used to send out information to get a specific message across or to mobilize people in order to weaken the position of a particular decision-maker.
Examples of AWN’s common advocacy / advocacy campaigns are
B.Conducting of the Lobbying
Since lobbying is a specialized form of advocacy and It is a strategic, planned and informal way for influencing of the decision-makers through two-way communication, campaigning, and using other tools for achieving the goals.
AWN communally use below lobbying tools for its Advocacy activities