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Advocacy for Social Justice: Lessons from Social Movement Advocacy
Extracted from Advocacy for Social Justice: A Global Actions and Reflection Guide
April 24, 2006

In any advocacy effect, positive models of behaviour deserve to be followed. Kennard's "ten ways to kill a movement" are reframed here as ten positive, proactive steps that an organisation, coalition, or movement and its leadership can take to build a movement.

  • Remember where you come from, that you are part of something larger. Celebrate your origins and roots.

  • Listen to the insights and experiences of people who are affected by the issues and participate in the efforts. They are the real experts - amplify their voices. Keep professional experts "on tap, not on top."

  • Keep balance in your work and personal life. Work hard, yes. Meet responsibilities, yes. Make an extra effort, yes. But also add humour and rest. Avoid pessimism and martyrdom.

  • Recognise human frailty and accept it. Set the example by not holding yourself - or others - to rigid or impossible standards that drain the organisation's energy.

  • Motivate others by sharing responsibility, paying attention to others, and encouraging those who make the extra effort. Give praise when it is merited.

  • Model behaviour, or set a good example, by fostering co-operation, sharing information with others, and encouraging others' leadership. Don't dominate. Leave space for others to share their knowledge and skills.

  • Insist on a calm approach to solving problems. Set real deadlines. Avoid a crisis mentality.

  • Share credit generously within the organisation, within the sector, and among allies.

  • Be equally civil to those who share your views or tactics and those who do not. Agree to disagree and do so without personalising disagreements.

  • Recognise that there are incremental steps in the advocacy journey. Celebrate how far a group has come and what it means to the lives of people. New experiences - like meeting with a bureaucrat, politician, or editor - are as much a success as winning a favourable policy. They build confidence and empowerment that, in many ways, are the most profound and lasting changes. Savour them.

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