What Is Advocacy, and What Does It Have to Do with LLL Leaders?

What Is Advocacy, and What Does It Have to Do with LLL Leaders?

Categories: Leader Today

Linda J. Smith, Ohio, United States of America

Advocacy is speaking out on “anything” you feel strongly about. Advocacy is an optional role for Leaders: something you might want to do as an individual, or as an official “delegate” on behalf of LLL to another organization or activity.

Advocacy for breastfeeding could be as simple as explaining your breastfeeding-theme T-shirt to someone who asks you about it at a shopping mall or outdoor event. Another example: supporting World Breastfeeding Week (day, month) is a form of advocacy. This could include preparing a display for a health fair; writing an article for media; putting links to World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) on your personal social media page; organizing or participating in a public breastfeeding event such as LLL USA’s Live, Love Latch!™ It could be as as extensive as volunteering to be a liaison for World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) and participating in phone conference calls or attending a WABA event. And WABA/WBW isn’t the only advocacy outlet in the world. Advocacy efforts can be local, regional, national, or international. It all counts toward the global support for breastfeeding. I have a breastfeeding-theme sticker on the lid of my laptop; explaining it to the airport security workers is a form of advocacy.

Over the years, individual Leaders and LLLI as an organization have supported advocacy efforts that have resulted in these cultural changes and more:

  • Maternity protection legislation
  • Laws protecting breastfeeding in public places
  • Coverage for breastfeeding support in health insurance programs
  • Global research and policy changes regarding breastfeeding related to HIV and AIDS
  • Changes in birth practices that support breastfeeding, including but not limited to the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative
  • Efforts to stop unethical marketing of breast milk substitutes
  • Research on human milk, infant and young child feeding and nutrition for nursing mothers
  • Infant and young child feeding in emergencies
  • Policies that include and support the perspective of breastfeeding families.

Linda J. Smith, MPH, FACCE, IBCLC, FILCA is a lactation consultant, childbirth educator, author, and internationally known consultant on breastfeeding and birthing issues. Linda is  the International Lactation Consultant Association’s (ILCA’s) liaison to the World Health Organization’s Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative and consultant to Infant Feeding Action Coalition (INFACT) Canada/IBFAN (International Baby Food Action Network) North America. As a La Leche League Leader and Lamaze-certified Childbirth Educator, she has provided education and support to diverse families over 40 years in nine cities in the USA and Canada. Linda was a founder of the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners (IBLCE), founder and past board member of ILCA, and is a delegate to the United States Breastfeeding Committee from the American Breastfeeding Institute. She owns the Bright Future Lactation Resource Center, http://www.BFLRC.com and is co-author of LLLI’s Sweet Sleep.