key steps

Local,national & international

Make it personal

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” – Martin Luther King (African-American civil rights activist)

If you are thinking to plan an advocacy campaign yourself, then you can follow the 6 steps below:

Step 1: What needs to change?

Since advocacy is about identifying and calling for change, we need to be very clear about exactly what it is that we are trying to change. When defining an issue or problem, be clear and precise about it. Answer the questions: Why is it a problem? For whom is it a problem? What are the root causes of the problem? Why do you find this important?

In finding an answer to these questions, try to do a little research and data collection about the problem to be able to analyze your cause. You can also use the problem tree to analyse your problem.

The goal assists you in thinking about the desired impact and helps you to make clear what you are trying to achieve.
The objectives you set enable you to monitor whether your advocacy strategy is successful (remember to keep them measureable!).
The activities are actions you organize to reach your objectives.

Goals:What do you hope to achieve in the long term?
Example: All young people should have access to HIV-counselling
Objectives: What specific change or outcome do you want to achieve in short term?
Example: Increase availability of HIV counseling for young people at the local health clinics
Activities: What are the tasks to reach your objective?
Example: Organize a stakeholder meeting, including the health district office, to discuss this issue.

Step 2:Who can make the change happen?

Once we have correctly identified what needs to change, we must look at who can make this change happen – in other words, who are we targeting? Targets can be primary or secondary:

• Primary targets are decision makers with the power to directly influence the change you are seeking and your advocacy expected result, like Members of Parliament, other policymakers, the village chief, community leaders...

• Secondary targets are individuals or groups that can influence the primary decision makers, like the advisor to the MP, schools, women’s groups, media representatives...

Step 3: How can I influence them to make the change?

The next step is to look at how we can influence these people to make the change happen. For this, we need to develop the right approach and the right tools to reach the identified targets effectively. Think about:
• Whose support do you need to reach your goal?
• Whose support do you already have?
• How can you reach these people?
• Who will benefit from your actions?

Approaches could be friendly, or brave and angry, finding common ground, or preparing for opposition arguments. Spend time to analyse each target before deciding on an approach.

There are many tools available for advocacy and you would need to list them all and then decide which ones you can use to be most effective. Having a budget would also help decide which tools you can use. Examples of tools are: factsheets, detailed reports, the media, demonstrations, meetings, petitions, public events, electronic social media…

Which message is going to inspire people around you to take action for your cause? When making your message, make sure it talks about the problem, the plan, the support and what you ask of your target audience. This document might help you in creating a strong message.

Step 4:Who can i work with?

For successful and sustained advocacy, you will need the support of a number of individuals and organizations. To create support for your issue, it is important to be able to network, participate in coalitions, and influence as many individuals and organizations as possible to join in. By working together with like-minded groups, you will have combined intelligence and resources.

Think about what kind of support you need. Ask yourself if someone else can help you do more. Think about others working on similar issues or those who could also gain from your advocacy

Step 5: What obstacles might I face? How can I overcome obstacles and risks?

Identifying potential obstacles or risks will help you be prepared in case something goes wrong. Remember to also come up with possible solutions and not only the problems!

A common obstacle to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights is people who do not agree that young people have these rights. Learn their arguments and main messages and prepare for difficult questions. You can ask them some difficult questions yourself!

Evidence is a piece of information that emerges from research and realities on the ground. This will support your message and make it stronger and help you make a sound argument. Arguments are based on facts and evidence and help you convince your audience of the importance of the problem. Also, personal stories can contribute to the argument.

Step 6:How will I monitor and evaluate my advocacy to prove it is working?

By now you are almost ready to start changing the world! But before you do so, it is important to put in place a way to track whether everything is going according to plan. This is known as monitoring. It helps you see if you are doing all the activities you planned, if you are following your timeline…

Evaluation is when you stop and look in detail at your work to see if you are indeed achieving the goals and objectives you set yourself in Step 1. Evaluating advocacy campaigns is not easy, but if you keep your activities simple, sit with your team regularly to talk about what went well and what needs to improve, and make sure you document everything in writing, photos, or videos, then you should be all set!

You practice!:

Now it is time to get out there, and spread your message to the world! You can do this in a lot of different ways, by talking to governments, policy makers, people in the private sector, etc. and using different tools (campaigns, petitions, debates etc). Have a look at the course Awareness raising to know how to start your own campaign!

Click here to download the youth action guide on advocacy to know more!
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What issue that concerns young people needs to be changed? How would you start an advocacy campaign?

Discuss these questions and share your tips and ideas for a good advocacy campaign in our Facebook community!

You practice!
Write down in a logical order how you would organize an advocacy campaign. Think about the six steps explained above and how you would apply them for your own campaign!



Do you know remember the key steps of advocacy? Let’s test it and drag key advocacy steps in the right order!


Drag key advocacy steps in the right order!



Advocacy can be done in a lot of different ways, but also on a lot of different levels.

Advocacy can be done in a lot of different ways, but also on a lot of different levels. Within each of these levels, you target different people, such as community leaders or the Mayor (local), Members of Parliament and policy makers (national), international companies, organizations, or delegates at a UN meeting (international).

When advocacy is done on a local level, it often targets and is driven by the local community. Local advocacy tries to positively affect the local communities directly, by involving them in the campaign and cooperating with them to ask for change!

We speak of national advocacy when it is done at a national level. National advocacy can target a change where the entire country benefits from, or also a change at the state/province level.

International advocacy targets a worldwide audience and national policymakers who are involved in international processes and often wants to bring change in international agreements about a specific issue.

You practice!
Surf the internet and look for examples of national or international advocacy campaigns. Were they successful? Why (not)? Did they bring about change?
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Local advocacy:

Because of bad air quality, school recess in Salt Lake City was often cancelled. Some students decided to investigate the cause of the smog and found that car emissions contributed to the prob-lem. These young activists met with their state representative, who helped them draft an ‘anti-idling’ proposal. The students testified at the state legislature and legislation was passed that required signs at schools, airports, and other hot spots, telling drivers to turn off their engines after 15 seconds if they were not moving.

Source: A guide to youth-led advocacy
National advocacy:

As part of the international youth-led ‘Wake Up Call’, young activ¬ists in Nepal called upon the Ministry of Local Development to ensure equal access for the disabled to hospitals, shopping malls, movie theatres, and public buildings. Their aim was to deliver their petition in person—a lack of disabled access meant the Minister had no choice but to leave his office and collect the petition himself. Upon receipt of the petition, he assured the disabled activists that their concerns would be addressed.

Source: A guide to youth-led advocacy
International advocacy:

CHOICE for Youth and Sexuality is a youth-led NGO which is actively involved in international advocacy. Youth advocates from CHOICE participate in United Nations conferences several times per year. During these conferences they have meetings with policy makers, organize panel discussions and strategize with youth advocates from around the world. These strategies help them in their advocacy for youth participation and young people’s sexual rights worldwide. For more information visit


Can you give examples of local advocacy campaigns in your community? Were they successful, did change occur and were the advocacy goals achieved? Why (not)? Did you ever participate in an international advocacy campaign? How?

Now you know the key steps in advocacy, reach out to your friends, think of an advocacy goal and start advocating together!

Discuss about this and other questions in our Facebook community!

You participate!
If you want to be part of a global movement and be updated about current international advocacy campaigns, then sign up to to see how other people are organizing advocacy campaigns to influence policymakers around the world!



What kind of advocacy is described in the statements below? Choose between local, national or international advocacy.




“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.” – Robert MacAfee Brown (American theologian)

Storytelling is about transmitting a story or an idea through words, sounds or images. It is a powerful way to transfer information to people.

When you deliver a message, you can disguise an educational or moral idea into a personal story. Telling a (personal) story also gives you the chance to connect with your audience, touch emotions, share our lives and give meaning to the issues you are discussing.

Have a look at these tips on how to make your advocacy message more personal or attractive through storytelling:

• Start with an engaging beginning - this is crucial if you want people to listen to your whole message. You can start out with some dazzling facts about the issue you care about, or with something personal about why you find this issue the most important thing in the world! If you really want your audience to be attentive, start out with a question relating to your topic and ask the audience for responses.

• Use words, images, audio, testimonies, etc. to immerse your audience in the story you are telling. The more different sorts of information you can offer, the more interested your audience will be.

• Tell the story in a logical sequence. Don’t make it too confusing.

• Explain the problem in your story, but don’t forget to also explain the solution. Make sure the audience feels that their contribution can make a change.

• Don’t forget to give your own point of view when transferring a message. This is what makes your story personal and more interesting.

Remember, telling a story from a personal point of view will also make you more attached to the story and more committed to the goal!

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Story of Brenda from Kenya After reading it write your own story!

The previous situation
Brenda grew up in a village where there was little attention for the health needs of young people and specifically not relating to sexual and reproductive health. Not a single parent in my village would talk about it”, she recalls. At school, the human reproductive system was mentioned only once during science. “Before my teacher started he gave us a warning: if any of us dared to laugh, he would stop immediately. During this lesson, no one dared to blink. The lesson took twenty minutes, while we had spent a week learning about the plant reproductive system.”

In church Brenda was taught never to talk about sex because it was a sin. “We were kept in the dark and sexuality remained an elusive topic.” The information they did get, was often incorrect. “Without the right SRHR information some of my friends got pregnant, dropped out of school or got married at a young age.”

The intervention
Brenda went to the capital Nairobi to get her degree. “I thought university students would be smart and informed, but I didn’t see a big difference. Most young people I met shied away from speaking about sexuality, even though it played such an important role in their lives.”

She went on to join the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) as a youth advocate, but says she was shy and narrow minded at first. She
experienced quite a shock, because not only was sexuality discussed openly also taboo topics such as homosexuality and abortion were talked about by NAYA and trainers from CHOICE. “It was a good learning opportunity for me and I discovered that I had prejudice and was discriminating others unknowingly.”

The current situation
Now Brenda actively advocates with NAYA for the sexual reproductive health and rights of young people. She is also involved in broadcasting radio shows where they inform the youth and discuss various challenges the young people are facing. “I am passionate about seeing a change in my country.”

In March, Brenda attended the Commission on Population and Development in New York, a unique opportunity to interact with youth advocates from other countries and experience advocacy at the highest level. “I learned that we cannot achieve change alone, we need to support each other. I look forward to invest in my own community in the village, to start up conversations with young people. Meaningful participation of young people is the key to the sustainable development of any country. We are more than statistics in a report. We are right holders and part and parcel of sustainable development. We are not just a number. We can grow up and be normal people who can look forward to a better future!”

You practice!
Write down three elements you liked about Ayanta’s story. How did she make her story personal? Write a story about yourself!


Why is storytelling important in advocacy? Do you have any examples of storytelling?
Discuss about these and other questions in our Facebook community!

You practice!
Now with all the knowledge you have, make a story for an issue you find important to advocate about. Write it down and show it to a close friend or family member. Get their feedback on your story and see if they find it convincing enough to make a change!



In this exercise you are going to think about how you could tell a story yourself! Read the questions below and write your answer in the textbox.




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