Changing Minds

Using the budgetary process to work for equity and social justice

The Centre for Budget Advocacy (CBA) is a program operated by the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) in Ghana. ISODEC works in a variety of advocacy areas to improve the lives and livelihoods of Ghanaians.  As part of ISODEC’s Social Justice and Rights Programme, the Centre for Budget Advocacy examines how national and local budgets impact the human rights of Ghanaians, particularly the poor and vulnerable, and seeks to influence these budgets and the general allocation of public resources for the benefit of disadvantaged groups in the country.

Engaging religious leaders in a conversation about inclusion, and implementing non-violent direct action tactics

Soulforce Inc. uses dialogue and non-violent direct action to make local and national religious institutions more inclusive of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) members. GLBT members carry out this work, attempting to engage religious leaders in a conversation about inclusion, and creating non-violent direct action tactics when negotiations fail.

Engaging key stakeholders for resolving land disputes

This tactic of targeting absentee landowners as key stakeholders was non-confrontational and proved effective to target. The community created specific alliances with influential absentee landowners who were initially, and often unknowingly, part of the violation process. The movement was successful due to the recognition of the importance of the cooperation of this target group.

Using the foundations of religious and cultural values to promote human rights

Sisters in Islam, as one of the founding members of a joint action group called Malaysians Against Moral Policing (MAMP), has been organizing in response to the growing zeal of the state in policing the morality of citizens. MAMP seeks to highlight Malaysia's Shari'ah Criminal Offences Act, which is often used as a means to invade privacy, scapegoat women and sexual minorities, and violate freedom of religion under the pretext of upholding Islam. In addition, there are several secular laws that the state uses for the purposes of moral policing and restriction of freedom of expression.

Using the World Bank Inspection Panel to pressure the government to release social program funds and strengthen human rights

In 1999, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) worked with a group of beneficiaries of a nutritional social program, the Garden Program, to successfully prevent its elimination. In order to pressure the Argentine government to reinstate the needed money to ensure the survival of the program CELS made a presentation to the World Bank Inspection Panel requesting that the undisbursed tranches of a Structural Adjustment loan be withheld until the problem was solved.

Encouraging passage of local government resolutions to influence national policy

Prior to 2003, Cities for Peace, a coalition of local elected officials and concerned community members, worked to get City Councils and other civic bodies to pass resolutions against a US led war on Iraq. Although the group focuses on the anti-war effort, this tactic has also been used to show local opposition to a variety of federal actions, such as investment in apartheid and the curtailment of civil liberties under the Patriot Act (2001).

Empowering the youth with democratic tools to promote coexistence

The Jewish-Arab Community Association (JACA) in the Wolfson Neighborhood of Acre, Israel, has a youth parliament in which Jewish and Arab youths from the community can take part to learn about and put into practice the concept of coexistence.  JACA teaches democracy and tolerance and helps to develop lines of communication and civil debate in order to develop young leadership dedicated to coexistence in Israel.

Developing youth parliaments to teach youth about the democratic process

The Culture and Free Thought Association has established youth centers, run by youth parliaments, to teach adolescents about the democratic process and provide them with positive life experiences. The youth centers are now governed by the elected members of the youth parliaments. This program for youth sprung out of a need to illustrate the democratic process for young people who had never witnessed it. Many youth in Palestine had witnessed or been subjected to violence.

Developing international monitoring and labelling coalitions

The Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) is developing international monitoring and labelling coalitions through an umbrella organization for the Fair Trade movement, in order to set criteria and standards for labeling and certification. This includes price minimums, pre-paid requirements and other guidelines. In addition, it manages a registry of producers committed to Fair Trade principles that includes small farmers and cooperatives that sell products directly to manufacturers and distributors.

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