Toolkit Taking Women’s Advocacy to Next Level
27 September 2018 at 8:28 am
Gender equality advocates say a guide on how to lobby women’s issues to parliamentarians will help take advocacy to the next level.
The toolkit, released last Thursday, provides comprehensive tips on how to maintain a relationship with a politician, how to communicate properly, and how to present the right data and research on the issue.
Toolkit author Joanna Richards told Pro Bono News she believed the guide was needed because there were many important issues that needed to be advocated for, but it needed to be done in a way that parliamentarians would take seriously.
“We have a lot of issues that need people going in and talking to politicians, and offering perspectives but also offering solutions, but if you don’t know how to go about it, it’s wasted energy,” Richards said.
She said she hoped it would encourage those involved in grassroots advocacy to “balance” that out with engaging a political leader, and spending the limited time advocates were given effectively.
“It’s great to do public advocacy but the real way to progress this is to balance that out and use our government and politics to take those issues to the next level,” she said.
“When you do get time with a politician, you don’t want to have to be asking questions about what they might need from you or how to approach the issue, so I’m happy to fill that gap with this tool kit so you don’t have to ask those questions.”
A number of parliamentarians and advocacy groups were consulted for the toolkit, including Equality Rights Alliance (ERA), who welcomed its release.
Project manager of ERA, Hannah Gissane, said it would take advocacy groups like theirs to the next level, by “channelling community momentum” on gender issues into parliamentary advocacy and into the “corridors of power”.
“We’re at this critical moment where politicians are open to our ideas and so having a tool kit like this helps us actually leverage that moment,” Gissane told Pro Bono News.
She also said the fact it was so comprehensive, yet accessible meant it opened up a lot of doors to groups who may otherwise be intimidated to take this next step.
“It demystifies a lot of the logistical and technical stuff around parliamentary processes, roles, leaders and mechanisms, so we are left with very accessible information that could otherwise be locked away, misunderstood or not understood outside of parliament,” she said.
Despite the low representation of women in parliament, both Richards and Gissane believed it was important these tools were used to engage with everyone so women’s issues were well represented.
“Our instinct is when we are advocating for women’s issues we think we should just talk to female politicians because they’ve got skin in the game, but it puts too much burden on them to represent all of our issues when really if we want real change, we need to be looking at places like treasury,” Richards said.
Gissane added: “Knowing how to advocate well in parliament with everyone, is a good way to put pressure on politicians, and make it known that women are a formidable political force.
“Even though Parliament isn’t representative of us proportionately it should still represent our issues.”