2.3 What is advocacy?

Advocacy is the act of pleading or arguing in favour of something, such as a cause, idea or policy. An advocate can also serve as a ‘change agent’ by influencing practice and public policies that benefit all people particularly those who are under-represented or have less power in society. In this session we are focusing on understanding advocacy and the role it can play in enabling children to achieve their rights. Advocacy on children’s rights is a means to ‘speak up for children’. Basically, it involves a set of activities designed to influence the practices, attitudes and policies of others to achieve positive and lasting changes for children’s lives. It can be done by adults on behalf of children. But children themselves can also be empowered to advocate for their own rights.

There is no one subject that advocacy is suitable for: the principles of advocacy can be applied to the health care of an individual child the quality of health services, or issues like child labour and corporal punishment. Take, for example, a community where there are many girls being forced into early marriage. As a health worker, you are very aware of the damaging health implications for girls who are very young brides and mothers. You might decide that you want to take action to address the problem. This process of active engagement in tackling a problem involves advocacy.

Activity 2.1: Advocacy in health services

  1. Read the statements below and tick the ones that you believe to be true.

    Hospitals may be scary places for children.

    Children have a right to information about their own health.

    Children may be upset if they don’t understand what is happening to them.

    Children have a right to information about their own treatment.

    Children will always feel safe around an adult who is a health worker.

  2. Now go back and consider the first statement. What role do you think advocacy could play in helping children feel less scared about being in hospital?

Compare your answers to those at the end of the study session.

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Advocay can bring about lasting change for children and they can be helped to play a part in advocay themselves

2.2 Learning outcomes

2.4 Why advocate for child rights?