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IFES Launches Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit


On Nov. 15, 2021, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) launched the Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit, a new resource to support civil society organizations (CSOs), organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs) and diverse advocates to use social media and technology in advocacy activities. As the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted marginalized communities such as young people, persons with disabilities, LGBTQI+ persons, women, rural communities, ethnic and religious minorities, Indigenous Peoples and others, digital advocacy has been a key tool in bridging the gap between advocates and decision-makers. The Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit includes tips, detailed steps and specific examples of how advocates can add digital advocacy to their existing and future advocacy initiatives.

The Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit was authored by IFES Senior Inclusion Specialist Rebecca Aaberg and IFES Youth Engagement Specialist Ashley Law, with support from key contributors IFES Deputy Country Director Lasanthi Daskon, IFES Inclusion Program Associate Kailee Smart and IFES consultant Chris Donn. The toolkit was additionally informed with the insight of IFES’ youth and OPD partners, including the General Election Network for Disability Access in Southeast Asia, the Association of Youth Organizations Nepal (AYON) and the University of South Pacific Student Association.

The toolkit provides step-by-step instructions for designing and carrying out digital advocacy activities using an intersectional approach, with particular attention to the unique experiences of people who identify with multiple marginalized groups, such as young people with disabilities and ethnic minority women. The toolkit can be used by CSOs, OPDs and self-advocates with stakeholders such as election management bodies (EMBs), political parties, candidates, elected officials and government ministries.

The launch of the toolkit featured a panel discussion moderated by IFES Sri Lanka Deputy Country Director Lasanthi Daskon with Deepshikha Shrestha, a representative from AYON, a youth-focused advocacy organization from Nepal, and Jennifer V. Garcia, of the CALL Foundation for the Blind in the Philippines. Jennifer shared CALL Foundation’s experience in transitioning to online advocacy methods during the COVID-19 pandemic and using online advocacy to reach decision-makers.

“If you want to connect with your government, let us connect by showing them that we are here, we can help you, we can offer something to you and we can be of help to our nation.”

-- Jennifer V. Garcia, CALL Foundation, the Philippines

Deepshikha, the Kathmandu district youth champion for AYON, previously organized several awareness events on youth civic and political participation and actively engages in mental health awareness campaigns using social media. During the panel discussion, Deepshikha spoke about the importance of using engaging content on social media such as memes, which can make information more entertaining and easier to understand.

“When we share infographics, the messages are shared. However, when we use memes, there is humor there as well. The responses are quite good when we use memes to share our messages because of the humor and happiness.”

-- Deepshikha Shrestha, Association of Youth Organizations Nepal

The Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit contains several sections that guide users through the process of creating an inclusive digital advocacy campaign and offers practical guidance for using digital advocacy, with a special emphasis on accessibility and online safety. The toolkit provides practical tips for ensuring that digital advocacy content is accessible and inclusive, such as good practices for writing alt-text for photos and graphics and how to include alt-text on social media platforms. The toolkit also emphasizes the importance of online safety for individuals and for organizations. Engaging in digital advocacy activities can increase the risk of bullying, harassment and cyberattacks, and hate speech and negative comments can impact the mental health of team members who engage in digital advocacy. Tips for combatting misinformation and resources for digital safety empower advocates to protect themselves and others online.

Please find an executive summary of the toolkit here.

The Inclusive Digital Advocacy Toolkit was made possible through the generous support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Department of State.

Published on January 20, 2022.