For several years now, Trócaire has been supporting local civil society in Uganda and Zimbabwe to improve prevention of and response to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), with a focus on violence against women. This includes influencing change at policy level.
Our new learning brief on Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy explores the lessons and challenges in using the Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy approach to tackle this issue.
Download the Learning Brief
The Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy approach
Trocaire introduced its Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy approach in 2018. This approach builds the capacity of groups of organised citizens to enable them to take action to monitor and advocate for change in policies and institutional practices in their localities.
The framework of this approach also guides Trócaire partner organisations monitoring and advocating for policy change at higher levels, such as within national Parliaments and Ministries. It prompts collaboration and coordination with citizen groups taking action for change at more grassroots level.
We recently documented our experience in Zimbabwe and Uganda using the Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy approach to improve national and local authorities’ policies and practices regarding SGBV prevention, referrals and services.
New Learning Brief
We have now published our findings in a Learning Brief, based on consultations with partners and grassroots citizen groups in Zimbabwe in December 2019, a survey of partners in Uganda in June 2020 and end of year updates from both countries.
The Learning Brief includes an overview of what Trócaire is currently supporting and contributing to, what has been achieved so far, lessons learnt, gaps and challenges and key recommendations to address these.
In terms of enabling Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy, Trócaire has supported partners to focus on four core processes: rights education, community mobilisation, skills training, and building agency of affected citizens. Grassroots citizen groups targeted by partners have included women advocacy groups, community action groups and cohorts of community activists.
In terms of direct Citizen Monitoring and Advocacy, Trócaire has funded partners to undertake policy monitoring and research, make policy submissions, dialogue with duty-bearers at different levels, participate in accountability fora and provide litigation support where required (Zimbabwe). Trócaire also provides technical support to partners on relevant legal frameworks, advocacy tools, and facilitates spaces for advocacy strategy planning.
Together, partners, women advocacy groups, community action groups and community activists have made some important achievements in influencing policy and institutional practice to improve the situation for women at risk and survivors of violence.
For example, at the policy level, partners in Zimbabwe influenced the prioritisation of a bill on mandatory sentencing of rape perpetrators in Parliament, while partners in Uganda influenced policymakers to increase budget allocations for SGBV services and to put in place key processes to improve the national Violence against Women response in the context of the covid-19 pandemic.
There are also examples of success influencing changes in institutional practice. In Uganda, successful citizen monitoring and advocacy led to the posting of female police officers in several localities to support female SGBV survivors in filing complaints and accessing legal rights, while in Zimbabwe, women advocacy groups have ensured police officers treat SGBV survivors with dignity and prioritise their cases when survivors are accessing support services.
5 key lessons
From their experience of the past three years, partners and grassroots citizen groups noted the following 5 key lessons:
- Building the capacity of groups of organised citizens results in informed and mobilised citizens who can confidently claim their rights and confront injustice.
- Building a sense of agency within groups of affected citizens who can represent themselves, when appropriate and safe to do so, results in more sustainable change than when they are represented by others. These citizen groups can assume stronger advocacy roles in their localities if they are further supported to do so.
- To enable effective engagement between citizens and duty-bearers, duty-bears also need capacity building, so they understand their roles and responsibilities. Therefore, a dual approach of targeting rights holders and duty-bearers is recommended.
- Coordination and collaboration are key aspects to the success of action for change, whether this collaboration involves engaging with community and religious leaders, other groups, community-based organisations and/or duty-bearers.
- Monitoring and documentation are important tools to track the gaps in policy implementation and service delivery and generate analysis and evidence with which to influence duty-bearers.
Read more about these lessons, gaps and challenges and the recommendations to address these here.