Advocacy vs Self-Advocacy
Advocacy and self-advocacy are two terms that are not fully comprehended by people and thus this article attempts to elaborate on these two terms while bringing out the differences between advocacy and self-advocacy. Advocacy refers to supporting others to express their views, fight for their rights and allow them access to services that are usually denied them. This is more of a representation for another. Self-advocacy, on the other hand, refers to the individual standing up for his rights, voicing opinions and dealing with others through self-representation. Advocacy can take various forms, of which self-advocacy is only one form. The main difference between advocacy and self-advocacy is that while advocacy is representing another or speaking on behalf of another, self-advocacy is where the person speaks for himself, or self-represents. Let’s understand the definition and meaning of these terms in more detail and try to apprehend the difference between the two terms, the advocacy and self-advocacy.
What is Advocacy?
Advocacy can be defined as acting on behalf of another. In society, we find people who are vulnerable. This could be due to many reasons. One of the prominent reasons is certain mental and physical disabilities that make an individual seek assistance of others for daily activity. Such people can sometimes be isolated and denied equal rights. Advocacy in this sense refers to helping people to voice their opinions and stand for their rights. Advocacy takes an active role. It is not merely about speaking out, it is also about being there for people who needs assistance and being considerate.
There are different forms of advocacy. Some of them are self-advocacy, individual advocacy, system advocacy, citizen advocacy and parent advocacy. The advocate or else who stands on behalf of another might have to take decisions for these people. For example, if a person is mentally retarded certain life decisions have to be taken for that person by the advocate. In such cases, dilemmas arise due to what a person wants and what is best for a person according to the advocate’s opinion. However, in advocacy the vital factor is always to give prominence to the welfare of the vulnerable person since they are maltreated in society.
What is Self-Advocacy?
Self-advocacy is mostly self-representation where the person acts as his or her own advocate. This entails the person standing up for himself, voicing opinions and taking decisions for which he would be accountable. However, especially in the case of vulnerable individuals self-advocacy sometimes has negative outcomes where people are ridiculed and discriminated by others for speaking up. In self-advocacy, since the individual acts as an advocate for himself decisions are made by a person based on his awareness of what is best for him. This can both be positive and negative. On the one hand, it allows a person to choose freely without external influence and unwanted pressure, but in the same time it can be detrimental if the person is unaware of what is best for him. In the modern world, there are a number of self-advocacy movements which bring out people with disabilities so that they will not be cornered and isolated by the society at large. It creates a forum for people to take initiative and take control of their lives and life decisions.
What is the difference between Advocacy and Self-Advocacy?
The above explanation highlights that advocacy can take a number of forms.
• Even though when we say advocacy it refers to representing another or standing on behalf of another to speak up and fight for the right of people who are vulnerable or disabled, self-advocacy is when the person self represents or else takes the initiative in standing up for himself.
• So the main difference is that while advocacy requires another individual to be an advocate in self-advocacy the person himself becomes the advocate which gives him the power to take control of his life and stand up for his rights, interests and opinions.