Regional Governance: Strategic Approaches for Activism

We know that it is not enough for governing bodies to make commitments and declarations – they must implement them for their words to mean anything in order to create positive change in society.

Most NGOs work with governance structures on some level, often either to collaborate or to hold them accountable for the work they do (or do not do!), the promises they make and the example they set. In order to collaborate or hold to account, and effectively engage governance structures, it is necessary for NGOs to understand the make-up of these structures and how they function. This includes understanding the procedures to engage in dialogue, decision-making processes, how officials are selected, etc. 

Understanding the workings of governance structures is an entry point for both advocacy and cooperation. For advocacy, this understanding helps to know when to intervene, which procedures should be followed, and where to go to hold the structure accountable.

A study analysing governance structures 

It is with this firmly in mind that Sonke Gender Justice undertakes to identify and analyse a range of governance structures in connection with key areas such as gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS, sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The study includes for example the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The results of the study will allow Sonke, Sonke’s partners, and civil society in general, to understand how governance structures function and the mechanisms that can be used to hold them to account. 

By Tabitha Paine