BY SHAMIKA STARKE
The definition of advocacy is: public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy.
Women of Winston-Salem, what does advocacy mean to you?
Advocacy, to me, is action inspired by a personal conviction to ignite positive change in others, especially related to issues that have a personal impact. Advocacy, to me, is having the courage to use my voice – uniquely fashioned and all-inclusive – in support of women and girl empowerment. To be an example, while remaining true to who I am. To be an agent of social change – this is advocacy to me.
As a community, many of us witness and respond to the impact that public policy has on the people we serve and interact with on a daily basis. Advocacy encompasses such a wide range of activities – from network and relationship building, to hosting a public meeting to raise awareness on a particular issue – all of which have the power to influence key decision makers.
Having overcome some of the same issues which affect other women and girls in our community, I am humbled by my successes, and I also celebrate those who have advocated on my behalf. As a woman, a person of color, a Christian, a Belizean-American, a victor over the violence of robbery and sexual assault, a mother, the wife of a policeman, a WFU Demon Deacon, a mildly goofy personality, and so much more – my voice encompasses a perspective that, although unique to me, has the power to promote positive change in others and ultimately our community as a whole.
By educating the public and forming key relationships, my voice now represents a bridge between policymakers and the women and girls in our community awaiting social change.
By embracing the power of diversity, and forming connections with other passionate women who are inspired by shared values – together, we can create a lasting impact on the lives of other women and girls in our community.
For more than twelve years, the Women’s Fund of Winston-Salem has maintained its commitment to engage our community to build economic security for women and girls in Forsyth County. A community of passionate women creating social change, the Fund has worked to carry out its mission by cultivating a culture of philanthropy while embracing a model of inclusiveness, so that all women and girls in our community may realize their power to make a difference.
Women today are disproportionately affected by many issues such as poverty, lack of healthcare, pay inequity and violence. This is why as women, we must take the lead in advocating for others in our community. By supporting programs that create opportunities to improve the economic, educational, physical health and emotional well-being of women and girls, the Women’s Fund believes that we can improve the overall quality of life in our community.
As part of its commitment to engage and promote shared community support amongst other women, the Women’s Fund will release The Advocacy Playbook this spring, which will be available for download in early May. This resource will explore a range of advocacy activities and highlight different tactics that individuals and groups can use to promote social change in their communities.
You can learn more about this amazing resource, practice a variety of advocacy tactics, and build a personal advocacy action plan at the Women’s Fund’s next Social Change Exchange event being planned for early June 2018.
In the meantime, we’d love to meet you at Forsyth Woman and 6thand Vine’s Girls’ Night Out on Tuesday May 8thfrom 5pm until… (see ad on page 49) Meet Women’s Fund members and celebrate National Teacher’s Day by making a contribution of school supplies to The Educators Warehouse, who will have a collection box at 6th & Vine that evening. Receive an extra GNO prize board raffle ticket for every donation or $1 donated to recognize the amazing teachers here in Forsyth County.
To learn more about the Women’s Fund, upcoming events and resources, and how you can connect with a community of passionate women creating social change, visit our facebook page or our website: womensfundws.org