This Thanksgiving, at NLIRH, we are especially thankful for the fierce Latinas in our Latina Advocacy networks across this country. On November 14-18 our Texas Latina Advocacy Network (LAN) hosted an important event: a Texas Advocacy Week in the Rio Grande Valley. A total of 30 women from the Rio Grande Valley participated in week-long training on reproductive justice, civic engagement, leadership, and advocacy. Together they learned from each other and from their experiences in organizing as promotoras (health promoters) and respected leaders in their communities.
They shared their expertise in organizing and mobilizing for reproductive justice and demonstrated their collective power by rounding off the week with in-district visits to their state representatives asking them to re-instate family planning funding, whose cuts have deeply affected their communities in devastating ways. For many of the women who participated in this week of action, it was the first time they had exercised their right to be civically engaged and hold their representatives accountable by visiting their offices. These fearless women understand that this work is just the beginning.
From collecting thousands of signatures for petitions to hosting their first ever advocacy week, the Texas LAN are a primary example of what authentic leadership in action looks like. Reproductive justice activism is crucial to their everyday lived experiences and they show it through the passion and heart that they put forth in every community health fair, in-district visit and march that they organize. The activists we work with respond to the challenges that face them as immigrant women and Latinas by reaching out to more communities, educating and empowering more leaders, and mobilizing for reproductive justice in ways that are accessible to those who need it most. As they would say, they are “siempre hechandole ganas”!
Above are two videos from women present at the Texas Advocacy Week, sharing their experiences. English transcripts after the jump.
My name is Lucila Ceballos. I’m very happy with this week of advocacy which was a great learning experience. I learned a ton to take to my community, to the women who cannot go out, to take this teaching, to take this power women have, to legislators- our voice can get there. I learned a lot. I went to meet with the representatives, and it was a wonderful experience for me, where my voice was heard. I went to represent my community, I went to represent many women with many problems, and I was able to see that these people heard our voice, paid attention, and promised to help us, to keep in touch, and to support and back up what we are advocating for. I was pleased to meet Vero and Stephanie, it was a great blessing for my life, and for me to be able to take this learning to many women. Thank you.
Hi my name is Herendida Foster. I live in the county of Cameron Park in Brownsville Texas. I’m very happy to have been able to be here because I was able to learn more about leadership in order to talk to my politicians about bringing better resources to my community, which is what most matters to me, because I want my community to have a better life, and it’s a personal goal to grow as a person, to be a good example for my children. It’s a great opportunity to invite other people who are interested- this helps in every aspect. Many times, we want to judge a president for not doing our job. We say that president doesn’t work, but if we do not start from our own homes, how can we expect to change our world and judge one single person if we do not do for ourselves? I say this so that we all join together and unite for a better life for ourselves, our children and our future grandkids. Hopefully I will have the opportunity to participate in this again. We’d love to have you back in Texas.