What is Advocacy?

Today marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, internationally nicknamed ‘Pinktober’ — the month Advocates for Breast Cancer (ABC) is using as their vehicle for generating awareness about South Africa’s urgent need for an equitable breast health policy. A crucial part of this campaign is equipping South Africans with the knowledge and skills they need to take up the role of breast cancer advocates so they can be the voice on behalf of the voiceless.

Advocacy: Be a Voice for the Voiceless!
Advocacy: Be a Voice for the Voiceless!

So what is advocacy? Finding its heart in the Latin word, ‘advocare’, UNICEF defines advocacy to mean: ‘to call to one’s aid’ or ‘to speak out on behalf of someone.’*

Advocacy, in essence, is all about voice:

  • To be the voice for those who have either been robbed completely of theirs or who aren’t equipped with the resources to raise them.
  • To give voice to problems and issues that are ignored, unknown or deliberately hidden from public hearing.
  • To equip and empower the voiceless to raise their voices in a way they will be heard.
  • To enable the voices being raised to be heard, then listened to – and acted upon.

“Conceptually, advocacy fits into a range of activities that include organising, lobbying and campaigning. Organising is a broad-based activity designed to ensure that the views represented in advocacy come from those who are actually affected by the issue. Lobbying derives from the Latin word ‘loggia’, a room where one would meet directly with decision makers to engage in (often private) quality discussions and debate. Compared to organising, lobbying takes a more targeted approach and reaches out to fewer people. On the other end of the spectrum, the Latin origin for campaigning is ‘campus’, the wider battlefield. An advocacy campaign publicly promotes an agenda, involving platforms where a wide audiencecan hear the advocate’s message.”                                        [ UNICEF, Advocacy Toolkit ]

In our next two posts, we will be explaining how Advocates for Breast Cancer’s (ABC) advocacy campaign will be organizing, lobbying and campaigning for an effective and equitable breast health policy for South Africans.

“Never doubt that a small group of

thoughtful, committed citizens can change

the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that

ever has.” – Margaret Mead

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