Important questions to ask
Campaigns need to be driven by a purpose and planned in an imaginative way that accommodates the uncertainty and unpredictability that characterizes campaigning.
Concerning purposefulness, the Association for Women in Development (AWID, 2003) recommends examining the following questions before starting or joining a campaign:
– Why am I joining/creating this campaign? What outcomes am I hoping to achieve?
– Who/what is this campaign supporting?
– Who is supporting the campaign and why?
– Is this campaign supported at different levels and grounded in daily struggles which could be improved by successfully achieving the campaign’s goal?
– Is this campaign harnessing a strategic moment or a particular political venue that is appropriate to the issue?
– Will the campaign raise awareness of people and encourage citizen participation in decision-making?
– Will the campaign contribute to the transformation of power relations between men and women?
Asking the following questions can further help with deciding whether it makes sense to start a campaign:
- Can the goal be reached or contributed to through other, less onerous means? Campaigning can be a long, expensive process involving many stakeholders. In some cases, lobbying key decision-makers may be a more cost-effective way to solve specific problems, and it can effectively bring about legal or policy reform. However, good policies and laws are not always fully implemented, and lobbying as such does not influence the media and does not change attitudes and behaviour among the wider population – including those in charge of law enforcement. For example, lobbying with education authorities may speed up the adoption of policies to prevent sexual and other forms of abuse at schools. But if the new policy is not widely known among school personnel, parents and pupils, implementation may be slow and patchy. In such situations, campaigns can help provide the information, pressure and motivation to ensure that policies are actually implemented.
- Is there a risk of duplicating or competing with a campaign run by others on the issue to be addressed? If your organization or alliance doesn’t campaign on the issue, will anyone else? Would time and resources be better spent by joining an existing campaign with a good track record of success?
- Is it the right time to address the issue? What is the worst that could happen if your organization or alliance does not campaign on the issue at this point in time?
- Can your organization or alliance mobilize the necessary resources to campaign on the issue, including the knowledge and skills needed and the financial resources?
- How does the campaign team feel about the chances for success? If it is felt that chances are extremely slim, then other types of activities or approaches should be considered.