Consciousness-raising (also called awareness raising) is a type of activism that often takes the form of a group of people attempting to focus the attention of a wider group of people on some cause or condition.Common issues tackled include:

  • diseases (e.g. breast cancer, AIDS),
  • conflicts (e.g. the Darfur genocide, global warming),
  • movements (e.g. Greenpeace, PETA, Earth Hour), and
  • political issues (rights violations, parties, politicians, etc.).

Since informing the populace of a public concern is often regarded as the first step to changing how the institutions handle it, raising awareness is often the first activity in which any advocacy group engages.In practice, raising awareness is often combined with other activities, such as fundraising, membership drives, or advocacy, in order to harness and/or sustain the motivation of new supporters, which may be at its highest just after they have learned and digested the new information.The term “awareness raising” is used in the Yogyakarta Principles against discriminatory attitudes and LGBT stereotypes, as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to combat stereotypes, prejudices, and harmful practices toward people with disabilities.

Interesting history of the word…Until the early 17th century, “consciousness” was used in the sense of moral knowledge of right or wrong, which today is referred to as conscience.