A Foot in the Door is an account of how the AREAP implementing partners secure a role for civil society organisations (CSOs) to make the policies of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) pro-poor and gender sensitive. The case study examines evidence from the State of the Union Coalition (SOTU), led by Oxfam, the Southern African Trust (the Trust) and Afrobarometer, of the effectiveness of approaches in influencing policymakers. It explains how SOTU has strategically positioned itself to support civil society platforms in ten African states to work with governments in reviewing their compliance with the African Union’s poverty reduction agenda and human rights treaties and protocols. It shows how the Trust supports the advocacy work of regional civil society coalitions to have a voice in making existing policies pro-poor and gender sensitive in the Southern Africa region.
It also shows how Afrobarometer capitalises on its brand image, built over ten years, to provide high quality data on citizen perspectives from thirty-five African countries that supports poverty analysis as well as advocacy efforts to hold governments to account. This case study provides insights into the credibility that the AREAP partners bring to CSOs and the role they play in monitoring the rights of citizens to have a voice in continental and regional Summits. When space for civil society is restricted by national, regional and continental policymakers, all three organisations use their in-depth knowledge of norms and standards, their networks and relationships and their reputation to renegotiate with decision-makers. Without the AREAP partners in this space, civil society voice on poverty, gender and human rights would become ever more curtailed.