Terms We Love

Advocacy: Active support of an idea or cause

Related terms: support, solidarity, propagation

Advocacy work is about standing in solidarity alongside one another to make sure each voice is heard and each dream is fulfilled. Another way we like to think about advocacy is storytelling with a purpose. Inherent to the achievement of justice is the telling of stories, the assurance that all who are impacted by an injustice may be heard and witnessed in the telling. Advocacy is the narration of this story. When WEA develops an advocacy approach within our programs, we ask: Which stories do we tell? To whom do we tell them? How do we tell them?

Examples of WEA’s advocacy efforts: providing technical legal assisting to Indigenous women in the Americas as they work to preserve their traditional homelands and promote sustainable energy development; representing a tribe facing inundation of its sacred sites from a proposed dam; supporting Indigenous groups to oppose a proposed new oil pipeline and to engage with  federal energy legislation.

Capacity-building: Strengthening actions that improve effectiveness

Related terms: vitalize, fortify, germinate

WEA’s work reflects and understanding that we are not dealing with a shortage of resources in the world, but rather an issue of access. Our work is to build the capacity of our colleagues to access a wide range of resources, tools, and support necessary for their sustained success. Capacity-building is about expanding the ability of grassroots colleagues to serve and strengthen their communities and future generations.

Examples of WEA’s capacity-building efforts: women in Sub-Saharan Africa receiving training to become water and sanitation technicians who can implement long-term solutions in their communities and train others; women farmers in India learning seed saving to build resiliency around recurring droughts, flood or other climate-related challenges.

Grassroots: Of or referring to community-based efforts

Related terms: source, ground, foundation

Grassroots leaders are people who work at the community level to improve conditions by engaging citizens’ participation. WEA’s programs highlight strategies that originate from the grassroots. This is exactly the opposite of traditional charity models that shuttle outside information and top-down aid to local communities without optimizing existing local resources and know-how.

Examples of WEA’s grassroots efforts: empowering women’s cooperatives; supporting local, community-based water conservation efforts; activating awareness-building campaigns around seed-saving.

Rights-Based Approach: Ensuring people can access and claim their human rights

Related terms: justice, self-determination, agency

David Cohen describes a rights-based approach as one that “respects human dignity, achieving fairness in opportunities and equal treatment for all and strengthens the ability of local communities to access resources and services.” WEA’s work is about ensuring people have access to basic human rightsclean and safe water, sustainable and nourishing food systems, and an uninterrupted relationship with healthy, living land.

Examples of WEA’s rights-based approach: in Sub-Saharan Africa, where women are improving access to clean drinking water by installing rainwater harvesting systems, enabling young girls to spend time in school instead of in search of water; in India, where the campaigning and collective mobilization efforts of women farmers are helping them gain their right to food security and is making it possible for them to create livelihoods.