A Day Without Dignity: Positive Advocacy Examples from Afghanistan

Today is A Day Without Dignity, the aid blogosphere’s answer to TOMS A Day Without Shoes. With so many discussions devoted to bad advocacy or “badvocacy” in aid and human rights activism recently, it’s important to highlight examples of good advocacy and NGO public relations productions. After all, it’s difficult to improve anything without positive examples.

The following videos from NGOs working in Afghanistan hit the right notes.

1. A video from the Aga Khan Development Network on social and economic progress made by women in northern Afghanistan.

The women in this video are agents of progress. They aren’t waiting to be saved; they’re saving themselves, and creating unprecedented opportunities for their daughters. (Note that interviews with foreigners are kept short and sweet, and the video is composed almost entirely of clips of Afghan women in action.)

The video’s message: With a little support, women can lift up whole communities, and poor women need decision-making power, not handouts.

2. The organizational profile video for Women for Afghan Women.

WAW serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and forced and underage marriages. Its introductory video could have been filled with horror stories and gruesome images of tortured and murdered women. Undoubtedly, that approach would have shocked consciences, but it wouldn’t have demonstrated respect for the dignity and resilience of Afghan women. So, instead on going for shock value, WAW focused on stories of Afghan women and men fighting against injustice, and used images of lives being rebuilt, protected, and defended.

The video’s message: To end violence against women and girls, invest in survivors and defenders.

3. A very simple video from the International Rescue Committee about the need to improve education in Afghanistan.

This video centers Afghan teachers and their students, not the IRC itself or its expat staff. The only IRC employees shown are Afghans. Images of Afghan teachers doing their best for their students in spite of severe resource shortages and insufficient training and pay are followed by quotes from the teachers about what they believe needs to change.

The video’s message: Afghans value education and we’re helping them create the education future they want for their children.