The most important lesson about international advocacy that I learned from the Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program is that the entire world, all countries, are connected as a Global Village. All of the challenges we face are shared, and this offers us a very unique opportunity for advocacy.
Working in international advocacy it is important to realize that the world is a small place, and human rights are important no matter how big or small. The violations against human rights and women’s rights that we are combatting in Sudan is not only a Sudanese issue, but an international concern. We are not alone in our campaign to combat these violations—we are supported internationally in our struggle for justice and equality. We are standing shoulder to shoulder with supporters from around the world.
The most effective way to do international advocacy is to encourage all human rights groups, non-governmental organizations, and activists to put immense pressure on their own governments to stop supporting abusive governments and regimes. For example, urge supporters to pressure their leaders to stop trading arms to the regime in Khartoum, and demand that warring parties sit to have a dialogue to end the conflict.
Another important aspect of international advocacy is to follow a campaign through to the end, and monitor its success. Often campaigns will not reach their full potential because other issues become more important. It is critical in international advocacy that you are consistent with your campaign and the pressure so that your issue stays alive.
During numerous meetings with Canadian officials, members of different panels and interest groups, I shared the challenges of Sudan’s women. Many people were very concerned and eager to become involved. The most popular question I was always asked by my audience was: what can we do to help?
The answer I give is that we need to put pressure on Sudan to respect women’s rights. Pressure can be in the form of campaigns, or it can come from governments, or the international community. People from all over the world need to come together to push for change and reformation of all laws in Sudan that violate human rights, and women’s rights.
Maha joined us in Ottawa for the 2014 Sister-to-Sister Mentorship Program. She completed six weeks of communications and advocacy training alongside two young women activists from Guatemala and South Sudan. Maha is now continuing her work to defend women’s rights in Sudan.