As we commemorate 16 days of activism, it is useful to reflect what the value of such days have for journalism and advocacy.
International calendar and observation days commemorate and recognize specific days for their importance. While some days are designated as International Days by entities such as the United Nations or the Southern African Development Community, organisations can also designate days to raise issues and mobilize for action.
16 Days of Activism - with a series of days including World AIDS Day on December 01 and Human Rights Day on December 10 - is a good example of how such decisions can lead to a concerted focus on an under reported issue.
This year 16 days of activism for no violence against women takes place with the theme of “Count me in: together moving a nonviolent South Africa forward.” The campaign is observed annually from 25 November to 10 December to oppose violence against women and children, with a long-term vision of eradicating violence in society.
The increase in media attention during this period allows a range of organisations the opportunity to raise their voices on critical issues.
News reports and experts will be weighing on these issues with analysis of cases of sexual violence, reviewing community interventions and generally seeking out the voices of those involved in the field.
It is clear then that organisations working on gender based violence issues need to make their voices heard during this time. The best way is to link your campaign through media conferences, press releases, opinion pieces and appropriate media channels to make your organisation’s views heard timeously by policy makers and government.
Remember, it must be sufficiently newsworthy to rise above the noise.
Media platforms treat news stories differently, meaning advocacy communications efforts cannot materialize in isolation. Simply producing material is not enough. You need to choose the right platform for your audience and your message.
How do you do this? Each message should be tailormade to suit a specific audience and thus have a clear focus to produce content that is newsworthy. The best way is to plan and schedule different activities which will assist by exploring news “hooks” and angles that would make your issue interesting and relevant.
These include special events or opportunities to promote your advocacy campaigns or programmes. Other than international days, organisations can explore possible international conferences, legislative processes, government announcements or breaking news story etc.
It is also important to note that observation days are adjusted annually, which makes it important to check and be updated on which days are on the calendar. Also build a relationship with the media you want to feature in well in advance of the day you want to commemorate.
Other days of observation include:
World day of social justice – 20 February
World water day – 22 March
World health day – 7 April
World blood donor day – 14 June
Click here for more observation days,