Nepal 2006: AP offered a voice to our civil society partners when they were muzzled by the regime. A year later, they helped to lead Nepal’s peaceful transition to democracy.
AP is committed to supporting action and we encourage partners to develop campaigns to address the cause of their disempowerment. Most need no urging. To them, advocacy means action. Our job is to help provide them with the tools.
We select partners that are committed to action. Indeed our first partnership was with the successful international campaign to create an International Criminal Court. In the years since, we have helped partners to take action in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Roma communities of Europe, the UK, and the DRC. As of 2015, AP is supporting seven community-based campaigns, described in the following pages. Most of these campaigns have sought to protect women, children and persons with disability.
The process begins, for AP, when we receive a request from a marginalized community through their advocates. We follow up with a visit. If both sides agree, we will recruit a Peace Fellow to volunteer with the new partner for 10 weeks.
As outlined elsewhere on this site, Fellows provide services that will strengthen their host’s ability to undertake an effective campaign. We consider this done once the host organization has a campaign plan; blogs, profiles, photos, video or embroidery that can tell a powerful story; a website and social media page, and the IT capacity to manage them; a strategic plan or annual report; funding for a pilot project to jump-start the campaign; and a new network of contacts at home and abroad.
Kosovo 2003: AP trained Heroina Telaku (left) to connect members of the newly-formed Kosova Women’s Network and help KWN to become an effective advocate for women’s rights in post-war Kosovo.
AP main contribution to this process is to spot openings which may not be apparent to partners on the ground. This happened in South Kivu, DRC, between 2009 and 2013, when we helped our Congolese partner SOS Femmes en Danger to reduce the risk of armed sexual violence around the town of Mboko by renting land where women could cultivate in security. This reduced the pressure on women to travel and work in danger zones, and by 2014 attacks against women were falling in the area. We always try and think outside the box whenever we support a campaign and partners appreciate this. (Box).
We seek several clear outcomes as a campaign moves from the pilot phase to firmer ground, often in year 2: measurable benefits for stakeholders; an advocacy agenda; engagement by beneficiaries; partnership with government (unless government is part of the problem); evidence of expansion; funds; and a vision of social change.
Our campaigns are undertaken in a spirit of equal partnership. We expect the partner to take the lead and we plan to withdraw within five years, by which time the campaign should be sustainable. We never take more than 20% of funds that we raise for a campaign although if funding permits we may also deploy a full-time Fellow for up to a year, as we have done in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, DRC, Mali and Uganda.
Mali 2015: Abi Konate trains survivors of war rape in Bamako to regain their confidence by producing and selling soap as part of a campaign to empower women supported by AP.
It is, of course, important to measure results. In 2007 we analyzed the results achieved from working with 50 partners between 1998 and 2006. Between 2007 and 2014 we tracked the progress of campaigns in annual reports. In 2015, we began to measure the results of individual campaigns against goals and record them on individual pages. Between 2007 and 2014 we raised over $2 million for partners.
Some outcomes have been bitterly disappointing. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have forced the closure of two pioneering girls’ schools that were opened in Wardak province by the Oruj Learning Center with support from AP and several Peace Fellows. In England, another long-time AP partner, the Travellers of Dale Farm, were evicted in 2011 after six years of peaceful resistance. These were huge defeats.
But even such setbacks cannot take away from the larger impacts. After the Dale Farm Travellers brought their case to Britain’s High Court in 2008, the judgement by Justice Andrew Collins changed British law by making it illegal to evict minorities if this would lead to homelessness. Hopefully, it will be hard to completely reverse the progress made in Afghanistan since 2003 in educating girls.
As history has shown, the path to change is uneven. Our bet is that history will eventually validate the actions of most, if not all, our partners.