In Chapter One, I identified the Framework for Advocacy and Action. Let’s use that framework in terms of advocacy and organizing for increased access to economic opportunity for women.
1. Identify An Issue You Care About
The general focus for this chapter is ensuring that women have equal economic opportunity. You can narrow this to focus, for instance, on ensuring that women-owned businesses can easily borrow needed capital, or that companies and governments use their buying power to purchase (or procure) goods and services from women-owned or managed companies. Narrowing your focus sharpens your goals and makes the rest of the work easier to accomplish and act upon.
2. Research: Do Current Laws or Programs Disadvantage Women?
Once you have a focus, then find out if there are laws or policies that impede the ability of women-owned businesses to borrow money or get credit. Are there laws or bank policies that make that harder? This can take the form of policies that discriminate against women-owned or smaller businesses, capitalization or credit requirements that are onerous, or practices that favor businesses owned by men or by friends of those making decisions about loans and credit.
3. Investigate the Context So You Can Understand the Landscape
While every country is different, we know that increasing women’s economic engagement drives growth and prosperity and gives women more control over their own lives. Laws and policies that can impede women’s ability to participate in the economy include:
• Discriminatory laws about what jobs women can hold
• Policies that create and perpetuate gender pay gaps
• Policies that restrict access to credit
• Laws that don’t allow women to own and have legal title to property, which can be used both as a productive asset and also as collateral for credit
• Lack of access to networks that provide information about opportunities
Once you have a focus, then find out which of the issues outlined above (or another issue) is most important to you in terms of ensuring access to economic opportunity for women, so you know what needs to be addressed through advocacy.
4. Find Out Who Has the Power to Make Change
Let’s say you want to focus on the laws and policies that make it difficult for women-owned and managed businesses to borrow the money needed to start and grow. Create a power map (see Chapter 1, Step 4). This will help you figure out who has power to deal with this issue. There are many people and institutions that will have an impact. You could focus on local, state, or federal policymakers if there are legal barriers to address and laws to change. You could focus on individual banks (and bankers) or organizations that represent financial services companies, which can set policies. In all likelihood, it’s a combination of these people and institutions.
5. Define Your Interest in This Issue
Once you have identified your issue, and know who has the power to make the necessary changes, it is important to communicate to the person you will be talking to why this issue is important enough to trigger your actions. This is a critical step. You will need to decide how to approach this issue and clarify your focus.
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