“My name is Ishtar. I am the manager of a South African organization that advocates for the rights of sex workers in order to reduce criminalization. As far as my pathway is concerned, I am from a lineage of trouble makers. I was at university where I learned some kind of feminist theory to support my activism that started with the issue of safety of women on campus at the university. These three sentences from one of the webinar panelists on “Innovations in Youth Advocacy; young people’s contributions to drive change in Africa” caught my attention.
By listening to the interventions from different panelists, we can very quickly understand that behind advocacy actions, players in the area of advocacy must always have a strong conviction about issues that they are advocating for. But, it is also clear that advocacy revolves around the system of good governance, gender equality, safe spaces for young people and access to information and services on family planning. In the advocacy process, stories collected are important data that can reveal many things and get things done. In advocacy, it is much more effective to work together to be informed of what is happening in order to break down barriers with the formation of small groups of advocates to push for change. It is important for young people to be present in all sectors.
It can be noted that sex still remains a taboo in the field of sex workers. This taboo is very much present in parliaments which are themselves conservative. So it’s important to work with a variety of advocates to be more visible and more relevant to the targeted young people.
The development of experience sharing tools is a good practice in advocacy because it allows refinement of strategies. It should be noted that young people must be brought to the fore to talk about their own problems but needs to be accompanied by building their capacities. Knowledge of the ground is important to benefit and motivate young people, especially when it comes to advocacy for a policy to put in place a strong mobilizable network. It is important to draw the attention of decision makers to this fact.
Finally, the federation of advocacy actions and strategies in platforms that promote networking and development of innovative ideas are channels that can be used to boost change and achieve the desired impact.
Sohaibou DIANE, Ratanga Club leader in RAES NGO