By Isela Cereso Mendiola
We’ve all heard the repeated phrase, “You need to advocate for yourself” or “Advocate for what you believe in.” What do those phrases really mean? How does advocacy impact our everyday life?
Merriam-Webster defines advocacy as, “the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal”. Although that is one definition, we all bring a unique meaning and interpretation of what it means to advocate.
So why is advocacy important? Why do we need to know what it is? Advocacy gives us the opportunity to allow our voice, actions, and passion to be heard, seen, and validated. Through this act, we express our rights and take control of the decisions happening around us. The idea is to use what’s special about you – your gifts, talents, and treasures – to make our communities better for all.
How do I know if I am advocating correctly, you may ask? Being an advocate comes in all shapes and styles. What’s important is understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing and ensuring your advocacy brings positivity, passion, and sparks change! A few tactics you can practice are:
- Contact policy-driven leaders in your community to support an important cause.
- Volunteer at a site that works to uplift a cause you are passionate about.
- Share your knowledge about an issue you care about through audiences within your life.
- If able, vote and be engaged in the electoral processes.
- Testify and share your story with decision-makers.
- Participate in policy, research, or social-driven opportunities in your community.
Esperanza United, we strive to uplift our Latin@ communities with direct support and advocacy. Our model is a strength-based and trauma-informed, using a multi-faceted and community-driven approach to ending gender-based violence. Research, policy, family advocacy, prevention, and training play a pivotal role in how Esperanza United advocates for change. We embrace the opportunity to uplift the voices, stories, and experiences of the community we serve.
If this worked as I hoped, you learned and solidified your own meaning on advocacy. Being an advocate is unique to every individual– with different passions that will create the necessary changes for our communities. Remember, you are the change, and we can’t wait to see you advocate in action.