Self-advocacy is the ability to speak up for yourself, about the things that are important to you. It’s about being able to ask for what you need and want. Self-advocacy is making choices and decisions that affect your life and carrying out a plan to help you get there.
You can download our information sheet on advocating for yourself here and an information sheet on the Code of Rights (download here). It can help to understand the Code of Health & Disability Services' Consumers' Rights as well as the guidance about informed consent from the Medical Council.
We also have an information sheet of effective communication that you can download here, as well as information sheets on talking about your endometriosis with your family and friends (download here), with your place of education (download here), with your employer (download here) and with your partner (download here)
Why is self-advocacy important?
Self-advocacy allows you to achieve the things you want from life. Being a self-advocate means you will:
improve your self-confidence and self esteem
gain dignity and self-respect
have the strength to guard against exploitation and abuse
have power as an individual with rights
Self-advocacy helps to empower you, to speak up for yourself, and make decisions about your life. When you have good self-advocacy skills you can have more control and make the life decisions that are best for you. It can be fundamental to both asserting yourself and exploring yourself and is directly linked to building confidence and self-esteem.
Remember you have the authority to be the expert on your life. Nobody else knows how you feel or what you think; you need to tell people if you are not happy or you want something to change. If you are not happy with the way something is done then it is up to you to help change it.
How do you advocate for yourself?
Believe in yourself
You are worth the effort it takes to advocate for yourself and protect your rights. You have the authority to be the expert on your life and nobody else knows how you feel or what you think.
Know your rights
Your local health district health board or the Health and Disability Commissioner will have information on your rights. You can find information on their websites but you may still have to make a few phone calls to get the exact information that suits your unique needs.
Decide what you want
Think about what you want and need, set yourself goals that will help you be clear to others about what it is that you want and need for yourself.
Get the facts
Spend time gathering information and facts, you need to know what you are talking about or asking for. The internet is a good source of information however, make sure you are looking at reputable websites. You can also check with people who have expertise in what you are considering, ask others who have been in a similar situation to you, check references in the library, and contact organisation for information and support.
Plan your strategy
Use the information you have gathered and plan a strategy that you feel will work to get what you need and want for yourself. Think of several ways to address the problem, ask others for suggestions and get feedback on your ideas.
In advocating for yourself it is helpful to have support from whānau, friends, and others in a similar situation. You can also gain support from advocacy organisations.