The Advocacy for People’s Power (APP) Model recognizes the different outcomes that advocacy can deliver. This model will guide the rest of the chapters in this toolkit. We will introduce the APP Model and return it throughout the toolkit.
Advocacy goes far beyond changing one policy into changing the power structure and how ordinary people perceive their ability to influence the decision-making processes. This model puts the anticipated advocacy outcomes in a framework that helps activists and social justice workers turn their struggle into a life-changing, empowering process, especially for the marginalized and disadvantaged.
This category of advocacy outcomes aims to deal with a specific problem or issue by introducing or amending a piece of legislation or a policy. Policy change is likely the most manageable level of advocacy outcomes to achieve and the first thing most people think of when mentioning “advocacy.” However, focusing only on changing a policy without considering advocacy’s other two outcomes would likely lead to institutionalizing the powerlessness of the marginalized and disadvantaged even further. Imagine, for instance, that the sole goal of an advocacy campaign is to change a given policy. The shortest and best way of doing this is to convince an influential person or group of elites to adopt our cause and talk on our behalf to the policy-makers.
If focusing only on changing a policy, advocacy would be between elites and decision-makers. Grassroots, marginalized, and disadvantaged groups will always feel they have no power in themselves. Instead, their power is in the good people who sympathize with them and want to help out by doing good deeds in the best assumption. The more grassroots and disadvantaged depend on the sympathetic elites in addressing their problems, the more their feelings of inability to contribute to the decision-making increase. Every time the elites extend a helping hand to the disadvantaged and marginalized groups, those elites will have more power, and the disadvantaged groups will feel more powerless, and their self-confidence further deteriorates
Balancing the Three Categories
Working on the three categories of advocacy outcomes is often a challenge to deal with. We need to consider the three categories of outcomes in any advocacy activity. Otherwise, advocacy will be limited by changing one or two policies without addressing the decision-making environment or the most critical piece of boosting people’s power and effective participation in decision-making.
Although the three categories of outcomes are closely connected, it is critically important to recognize that the ultimate goal we should seek while doing advocacy is to help people gain confidence in their power and use it to effectively participate in the decision-making processes. Having people’s power and participation as the ultimate advocacy goal liberates advocacy from the narrow view that advocacy is primarily to change policies.
The Role of Civil Society Organizations in the APP Model
In achieving all these three categories of outcomes, a robust civil society plays a critical role in providing a medium for people to analyze their collective situation, express their opinions, come up with appropriate advocacy strategies, and get themselves organized to address issues of their concerns.
How Does the APP Model Work in Emergency Situations?
The APP Model does not work well in emergencies where you have to move fast to stop disasters from capturing more people’s lives. In case of emergencies and natural disasters, advocates should use their discretion on the policies and decisions they need to influence to contain the impact of the emergency. In other words, their focus should be on the “Policy Change” category of outcomes.
Advocates, nonetheless, should be cautious about policies that might damage the future chances of involving people in the process in order to mitigate the damage. For instance, in the case of fighting against terrorist attacks, some governments might introduce restrictive measures that invade privacy and hinder people’s right to information and participation in decision-making. Suppose such measures are effective for long or without adequate independent oversight. In that case, they might have a long-term effect on people’s right to information and participation in decision-making. from effectively participating in the decision-making processes. Advocates need to push back against such prolonged procedures introduced in emergency times. Given that every society witnesses such emergencies, advocates need to support their community needs yet be vigilant in watching where the situation might develop. Most of the time, the APP Model can be valid and applied at variable paces depending on the socio-political context of the society you are working in.
|APP Model||Traditional Advocacy Model|
|People’s capacity and ability to participate in decision-making is the goal.||Focusing on one situation or solving one problem is the goal.|
|It brings together groups of people affected by an issue to decide on the needed course of action||A small group of people assume what the community need is and work on behalf of the community.|
|Allows people to collaborate to build and maximize the experience of collective power.||Allows few to assume all leadership and decision-making roles.|
|People manage and lead the lobbying efforts related to their issue(s).||Requires the use of professional lobbyists.|
|Actions are based on achieving goals consistent with a larger vision of social change.||Actions are based solely on the potential for a policy victory or short-term gains.|
|Involves ongoing efforts to broaden the base of community support and develop new leadership.||Allows for limited reaching out to new members; only a few people work on the effort or maintain leadership roles now and forever|
|Allows people to develop a sense of power and control over their lives; the experience of shared power coupled with vision creates the feeling that “We have a right to....”||Involves just changing people’s minds about a situation or condition, with limited or no building of additional “capability” or “capacity.”|
|It may be a long, involved process requiring patience, perseverance, and respect for individuals and the change process itself||A solution coming from above leads to victories or the resolution of problems.|
|Changes the power balance in favor of ordinary and even marginalized people.||Increases the power of the power holders and further decreases the power of ordinary and marginalized people.|
|It helps address many other issues as people build their capacity and become agents for positive change.||The few people who take the lead are overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of other issues and are very selective of which issues to address|