What is a Policy Dialogue?
A Policy Dialogue involves people from different interest groups sitting around one table to focus on an issue in which they have a mutual – but not necessarily common – interest. It assumes that people in different positions will have different perspectives on the same problem. For example:
- A person providing a service may have a more complete level of information about the services available than an informal worker seeking out the service.
- A person from the municipal department responsible for public transportation may have a different judgment about the quality of a service than a person working far from the centre of the city who must rely on public transport.
- A female informal worker may have different health needs than a male informal worker.
Policy Dialogue is a vehicle through which people can be helped to see problems from each others’ perspectives. This can improve a policy or programme. Power differences between different stakeholders are acknowledged. The Policy Dialogue tries to identify areas and spaces where it is in the best interests of all to make improvements and reforms.
Policy Dialogues can be powerful advocacy tools for informal workers.
How Does a Policy Dialogue Work?
There is no ideal model of a Policy Dialogue. In the purest version, the Dialogue is closed (invitation only), the group is small, and without emphasis on formal protocol. However, some successful Policy Dialogues, such as the Health Policy Dialogue in Ghana in 2012, have been large and had formal dignitaries present.
The event must be well-structured, giving all parties a chance to contribute. A focused selection of issues that can realistically be addressed should be chosen in advance. Most importantly, the Policy Dialogue should conclude with a set of commitments to action by all parties.
Conducting Policy Dialogues to Achieve Results, developed by WIEGO (2013). The guide is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
Tools for Advocacy: Social Protection for Informal Workers by Francie Lund and Jillian Nicholson (2006) – This booklet came out of the Asia Social Protection Dialogue, held in Bangkok in April 2004, organized by WIEGO and Homenet Thailand.
Recent Policy Dialogues
- Accra, Ghana, 2012 – Health Policy Dialogue focused on kayayei (head porters) and their ability to access health services.
- Bangkok, Thailand, 2012 - Health Policy Dialogue organized by WIEGO and HomeNet Thailand with support from the Rockefeller Foundation.
- Mexico City, Mexico, 2009 – Social Protection and Informality in Mexico – organized with and hosted by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC/CEPAL) at its headquarters in Mexico City