Mobilizing Influence

 

"Politics hates a vacuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear." ~ Naomi Klein

Many of our day-to-day movement-building activities are aimed at tapping into and mobilizing the power of women’s numbers and knowledge in order to influence and hold accountable the powerful institutions that make and enforce laws, and distribute resources.

Better laws, policies, and budgets are always needed to combat inequality and violence. Yet in many countries, decent laws and policies for women are already in place. The challenge is the huge gap between words and reality. Laws aren’t implemented because of insufficient budgets, lack of political will, or discriminatory attitudes deeply embedded in institutions, etc. Moreover, many women don’t know their rights. Even if they do, the social risks of speaking out and acting on them may be great.

Our organizing and training strategies help build women’s leadership and networks for taking action, yet getting on the decision maker’s agenda requires even more. Women must mobilize "Knowledge and Noise," generating new alliances and public buzz in and outside of powerful institutions. In this way they can create enough pressure so that inaction is politically costly to decision makers. There are times when opportunities to engage with policymakers are not strategic and may divert resources (See Strategic Opportunity or Black Hole?).

Influence strategies may focus on local decision makers.  For example, JASS worked with Malawian women who persuaded local governments to provide mobile health clinics and traditional leaders to provide fertilizer and land. Influence strategies may be national. For example, the Honduran Feminists in Resistance, a JASS ally, along with supporters at a global level targeted their Supreme Court to reverse the ban on emergency contraception.

Getting national governments to respond to women’s demands often requires engagement with powerful regional or international institutions. For example, in Mesoamerica, JASS and our alliances have engaged with formal Inter-American structures that mandate governments to protect at-risk activists. We’ve also used UN conventions, like the CEDAW Committee, that sanction governments and demand they reduce violence and enforce gender equality laws. InSoutheast Asia, JASS supports civil society dialogues with the powerful regional intergovernmental body called ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Read More about JASS' Approach.