Advocacy: Education and Action

To me advocacy is educating yourself on a topic that is often misconstrued, misinformed, or not even spoken about and to then take the information you learned and present it to others in order to bring about awareness and understanding.  The ultimate goal is to change how the topic is handled or viewed by our current society.

The word movement instantly brings to mind the historic women’s voting rights movement and its connection to the current women’s movement seen advocating for a multitude of topics very recently at the women’s march worldwide.  Historically the Civil Right’s movement sought to bring to light the issues faced by those marginalized in America specifically African-American people and the ways in which they were and still are mistreated.

With awareness comes a call to action.  “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu.  This quote by Desmond Tutut, a South African social rights activist, connects the education side of advocacy to the movements that come from advocacy.  Once aware of the issue and injustices in this world there must be a movement to create a difference.  The final goal of advocacy is to no longer need to spread awareness of an inequality because the inequality no longer exists.

The student debt movement interests me and intersects with my life as the movement strives to lower the amount of debt students face upon graduation. The women’s rights movement strives to make sure women have equal rights, reproductive rights, and much more. By exploring these movements I will become aware of inequalities that affect me and work with other like-minded people to make a difference in my own and  my peers future. Moving forward I anticipate challenges convincing others that there are still issues to face when it comes to women’s rights and making a change legally in the current political climate.


My Focus: Girls & Education

by Shannon McNaul

“Movements that Work to Create Change” Word Cloudcloud

My Interests

The movements that I would like to explore are movements related to gender equality and education reform and equality. Some of the specific movements include education for girls in developing countries, feminism, education reform, women in STEM fields, and women’s health.steminist


These movements definitely intersect with my sense of identity; I know the importance of education and I am a woman. While I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to receive a high quality education, and now, I have the privilege of attending UD. Because of my background, I think that quality education is very important and that all people in all parts of the globe should have access to it. Girls in developing regions of the world are especially deprived of this necessary education. Also, I am a female and I am an engineer. Engineering is a male-dominated field, and I do not want to be disadvantaged in my career because I am a woman.


These movements have already created change in the world. To begin, women in first world countries are increasingly being treated and paid equally as men in their careers. Also, more women are making names for themselves in business, politics, engineering, and science. Next, a benefit related to girls in developing countries includes helping girls get a higher level of education and better their lives instead of having only a primary level of education and being oppressed by their country’s culture. The Girls Count Act, which ensures that girls have official birth certificates, reduces child marriage and gives girls more access to education.


On the other hand, there are many challenges that need to be addressed moving forward. To begin, many people misunderstand the definition of feminism and do not think it promotes gender equality. Two examples of this include the countermovement to feminism, meninism, and the labeling of feminists as “feminazis”. Another major challenge is the lack of support from men even though feminism is important for both genders. A challenge for girls in developing countries is that the way of life is so ingrained in society that it is hard for girls to disobey the culture to go to school or to avoid child marriage.unicef

These Movements on Campus

On college campuses, there are multiple student organizations that support these causes: Girl Up Campus, Scientista, Society for Women Engineers, Student Activists for Gender Equality, and UNICEF.girlup



What is Advocacy to Me?

Advocacy to me means standing up for what you are passionate about and what you feel needs to change in society. I believe that when people work together for these movements and collectively want things to change, amazing things can happen. The feelings of collective effervescence that occur when people are all gathered for the same cause is something that makes advocacy so empowering. One of the most recent example of this that comes to mind for me is the Women’s March on Washington! Before attending the March on Jan 21st I had never really been a part of a huge protest such as that, and it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. With the current political climate and the controversial situation with our new Commander in Chief, it can be hard to remember that there ARE people in this country/world that want positive change. That being said, seeing the half a million people gather in Washington (and all over the world!) to stand up for women’s rights AND stand in solidarity with all minorities was so empowering.


The ideals behind the Women’s March definitely are one’s that resonate with me in my life. One, being that I am indeed a woman, and simply the general ideals that enforced love, acceptance and equality between ALL people. I would definitely like to look more into this modern movement along with the reasons that led to it, (the Presidential campaign for example), or possibly even other movements that are being emphasized during this difficult political climate, such as the debate on Refugees & Immigration or the movement to emphasize climate change’s existence and risks. I personally try to be a huge advocate for climate change and its threats to the planet, as I am a huge outdoors lover, so I would enjoy looking into that more. A challenge to exploring the climate change movement is the fact that many people will overlook it simply for economic benefits or to avoid inconvenience in their every day lives, however the benefits would be the fact that it can literally help save the environment and Earth that we live on!