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Types of Advocacy

There are three types of advocacy1):

  • Self advocacy
  • Case advocacy
  • Cause advocacy

Self advocacy is speaking for, representing the interests of, or defending the rights of oneself. There are instances when an individual has to become an advocate for himself or herself. A few examples will illustrate the point. If you make a payment on your VISA credit card, but the next month’s bill shows that you still owe the money to the company, you will have to speak in your own behalf to clear up the matter. You will have to go to the company, take your receipt showing you paid the bill, and ask them to properly credit your account. If you receive your phone bill and there are calls charged to your number that you did not make, you will have to go to the phone company and clear up the confusion. That is advocacy. It is self-advocacy.

Case advocacy (or sometimes referred to as “Individual Advocacy”) is speaking for, representing the interests of, or defending the rights of another person or specific group of people who are not in a position to defend their rights at that very moment. There are instances when an individual or an organization may decide to advocate for someone else or some other group of people. An example here might be helpful. There was a case in Egypt in which someone brought a suit before the courts to force a couple to get a divorce when neither person in the marriage wanted a divorce. The issues were complex, but the couple resisted getting a divorce. A group of Egyptian lawyers volunteered to take the case and defend the couple in court. The lawyers advocated the right of the couple to stay together. This was an example of case advocacy. Often, organizations will participate in case advocacy if they see that some broad principle is involved or that the case will set a precedent.

Cause or Public advocacy is speaking for, representing the interests of, or defending the rights of a general category of people, or the general public. Where case advocacy concentrates its efforts on one specific case, one specific person, or one specific group, cause advocacy concentrates on advocating for a general category of people, or even the general public, like the case of environment. An organization involved in cause advocacy might address issues related to such categories as women, workers, children, or the environment.

The focus of this guidebook is mainly on cause/public advocacy, although much of what this manual includes could also be applied to other types of advocacy.

1) Adapted from: King, Robert and Tadros, Nader, 1998. Introduction to Advocacy; Unpublished paper. America’s Development Foundation, Cairo, Egypt.

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