SASKATOON — Dr. Alaa Murabit, the middle child of 11, moved from Canada to Libya at the age of 15 where she attended medical school and became a national leader for women. An activist from an early age, in March 2016 she was named a UN commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. She presented an Advocacy Training Workshop on Saturday, May, at Station 20 West in Saskatoon.
After encouraging everyone in the room to share why they were there and what specific project they wished to focus on as activists, she helped guide participants through to creating an action plan.
“The first step is to choose an advocacy project,” noted Murabit, adding that it needed to be focused down before a timeline could be created. “Sometimes you will find others with similar advocacy goals, but the best thing is knowing who you can ally with.”
She encouraged participants, once they had narrowed down their projects to a manageable and specific size, to identify all stakeholders.
“A stakeholder is someone affected by your issue, and anyone who affects your issue,” said Murabit. “This includes beneficiaries, who are also your allies and are going to benefit from your advocacy.”
Tightening up the advocacy plan was followed by stakeholder mapping.
“Put your advocacy in the middle and put the webs outward. Public awareness and media are part of your outreach,” said Murabit, adding not to forget the biggest stakeholder who needs to show up regularly. “You are your single biggest stakeholder, and you need to be there, too.”
She noted that a lot of stakeholder mapping derails because too many people are included. It is important to narrow it down to who your primary stakeholders are and what your primary focus is. Identifying allies also includes asking what additional pieces you are bringing to the table, if someone else is already doing similar work. And finally, identifying beneficiaries helps bring things into focus. She noted that, for many campaigns, fundraising is often a big focus.
“The only difference between a strong and weak campaign is money, for the most part,” she noted. “For the majority of you, you will either be media focused, or financially focused.”
Once stakeholders had been mapped, participants were encouraged to identify internal and external strengths and weaknesses, and the external opportunities and threats to the campaign.
The final step was to create a timeline.
“Based on your stakeholders, and working with your strengths and weaknesses, decide when you’re doing it and what you’re doing, and with who,” explained Murabit. She also advocated having a plan B, based on the opportunities and threats identified in the process. “Your plan B doesn’t have to be as well formulated, but you have to recognize that sometimes that’s what you’re going to delve into.”
She added tips for presentations: telling stories works well in person, but when sending paperwork or reports, empirical research such as statistics or numbers are vital, along with presenting the possibilities of what would happen if you don’t carry out your plan.
It was her hope that not only did each participant leave with a fully formulated plan and strategy for how to achieve it, but also to create a Saskatoon advocacy group to share and pool talents and resources. The group committed to creating a Facebook group which would be available on the Facebook event page for everyone to join.
Following the workshop, organizer Darlene Okamaysim-Sicotte presented Murabit with a shawl and thanks on behalf of the organizers.