Advocacy and community mobilization as drivers of a progressive society

WHETHER promoting greener spaces in a local neighborhood or protecting women’s rights, advocacy plays an influential role in advancing society and a flourishing environment. The challenge is, “How far can our personal advocacy extend for a greater cause?”

Framing ourselves as mission-driven advocates, an often-overlooked aspect of advocating is acting as a bridge between citizens and people in power. As defined by the Missouri Foundation for Health, advocacy is any action that stimulates, recognizes, argues for a cause, supports or defends on behalf of others. We can take this further by framing advocacy as promoting causes not just for others, but with fellow advocates.

In my years as an LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights advocate, I have heard all sorts of criticisms and name-calling toward our community. Historically and even today, gender expression has never been so popular, isn’t it the best time to work together for a world where all genders can enjoy rights fully?

I distinctly remember that shortly before the start of this school year, a Facebook post went viral due to a haircut policy implemented by certain schools, in which several trans women were forced to chop their hair in accordance with their school uniform policy.

This shows that although more academic institutions and companies are embracing diversity and inclusion, there are still some policies that may go against authentic inclusion and diversity. From the same-sex marriage debate to employment discrimination, the fight for equality has many battles ahead. It seems that there is more groundwork to do to promote equal rights and improve the lives of the oppressed. Perhaps a good question to ask is, “what could we do?” Boosting the LGBTQIA+ representation, we can champion a greater multicultural acceptance through visibility! Much like other underrepresented groups, enabling our community to be heard and shed light on our perspectives to a wider audience is the first step to nurturing a sense of solidarity — one that extends to an ever-changing world.

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As I reflect on the importance of advocacies and mobilization, I acknowledge that not everyone has discovered their mission or their call to serve yet. I remember a colleague I met in an organization. I asked, “what is your advocacy?” This colleague struggled to answer, and they can’t seem to figure out their advocacy yet. Through this exchange, I realized that we need to encourage each other to be more active advocates. It is important for us to get involved with our respective communities and define the causes we are willing to devote ourselves to. While each of us has different motivations, what should inspire us to continue is learning that we are each called to contribute to society in our own personal ways.In our continuing vision to uplift the vulnerable by elevating our voices, we can build creative solutions that transform lives. An interesting take would be how your cause can foster community mobilization and social change. As such, I offer the following insights:

– While the LGBTQIA+ community is growing, we are also witnessing the effect of media representation on cultural acceptance. Perhaps we can explore businesses and the media to step up their efforts to increase the number of diverse and inclusive stories they showcase. There may be a majority of people who are not only comfortable seeing LGBTQIA+ potential in media and advertisements, but they also favor brands that are LGBTQIA+ inclusive.

– There may be academic institutions employing an LGBTQIA+ curriculum across the world to reduce the stigma. Harnessing and developing representation can create social-emotional learning opportunities. An example could be storybooks in libraries for early childhood education that illustrate multiple family structures, including LGBTQ+-headed households, which is one way to build empathy and an equitable learning environment.

Oftentimes, advocacy groups strongly take part in working toward proposing certain non-discrimination laws and are committed to speaking out against discrimination. While public recognition is never the primary goal of such initiatives, it’s a contributing factor to staying true to our advocacies, which illuminates others to take part in championing vulnerable members of the community.

There’s no magic button we can easily press that can ensure immediate LGBTQIA+ inclusivity — it is a lifelong journey toward a more progressive tomorrow. Widespread prejudice and conditional acceptance are some of the biggest obstacles to an inclusive society and we must overcome these. Thus, let us challenge the status quo by effectively demonstrating humanistic and sustainability-oriented solutions. Some actions include creating visibility of our LGBTQIA+ in the media, committing to diversity in the workplace, promoting the use of gender-neutral language, fostering the belongingness of LGBTQIA+ in society and simply treating people with kindness!

Together, let us cultivate visibility through authenticity and inclusivity. In the pursuit of achieving systemic change, may we commit ourselves to being a catalyst for change, one that plants greatness in humanity!

Maria Angelica T. Pechon is an undergraduate student of the BS in Applied Corporate Management program under the Department of Management and Organization, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University. She is an active advocate of sustainable development goals, corporate social responsibility, and women and LGBTQIA+ rights. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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