2.9 Determining priorities to advocate for change

There are many ways health practitioners can use their expertise and knowledge of what happens to children as a consequence of public policy. The issues of primary concern vary across localities within countries and from country to country, but there are invariably more issues than there are time and resources available to commit. When determining priorities for change, you might consider the following issues:

  • The scale and degree of harm. How many children are affected and with what degree of severity? Does it address all children or a selected few? What about children who are marginalised or suffer discrimination? How is it influencing child development? Which rights are not being respected?
  • The degree of urgency. Is it an issue that should be addressed urgently to keep a greater number of children from being affected?
  • The potential for enlisting support from others. A campaign is more likely to be successful if you can attract others to support the cause. Who is already on board, and who needs to be educated and/or convinced?
  • The public sensitivity expressed for the issue. If the issue has attracted media attention or public interest, you can capitalise on this heightened sensitivity to promote the case from a children’s rights perspective.
  • The current political environment. You can take advantage of windows of opportunity. Examples would include:
    • a.when a relevant bill is passing a legislative body that can be amended to introduce better protections for children or
    • b.a general election wherein you can lobby political parties or candidates to take your concerns or issues seriously.
  • Cultural and religious context. What are the cultural and religious views? Will you be able to get support from religious communities?
  • The scope of what needs to be done. What needs to be done and what resources will it require? Is it simply making a phone call, or a large-scale campaign spanning across systems?
  • The level of resistance. Who is disinterested or in opposition? Why? How can their perceptions be changed?
  • The likelihood of success. It may be a better investment of time to focus on policy issues that are attainable in the short-term, as well as other more challenging long-term goals.

Step eight: Review progress