South Africa: Building a Social Movement Is an ‘Extreme Sport’, So How Do You Do It?

The early childhood development sector took its advocacy to new heights, scoring key wins in 2020. But how to take this budding momentum forward? Exponents turned to veterans of civil society, Equal Education general secretary Noncedo Madubedube and Mark Heywood – editor of Maverick Citizen – for guidance on building people’s power, forming organisational structures and antagonising government – while keeping its ear.

Advocacy work does bring about change — but it is no easy task.

This was the shared sentiment of civil society leaders Noncedo Madubedube and Mark Heywood during a virtual discussion organised by ilifa Labantwana. They discussed what the early childhood development sector can learn from advocacy in the education and health sectors as it develops a national movement.

Madubedube is general secretary of Equal Education, a community and membership-based organisation that advocates for quality and equal education in South Africa. Heywood is the co-founder of the Treatment Action Campaign, former director of Section27 and currently editor of Maverick Citizen.

The sector saw an unprecedented surge in advocacy in 2020, said Tess Peacock, moderator of the discussion and an ilifa Labantwana associate. It compelled the government to provide it with Covid-19 relief. It won two court cases…


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