The Women's Building. Photo by Erin Sullivan

The Women’s Building is undertaking a new effort to empower young women to advocate against sexual and gender-based violence.

“How do you use your four decades to bring in young women and move the needle?” asked Vylma Ortiz, advocacy specialist at the Women’s Building.

The Women’s Building, a women-led community center at 3543 18th Street, is launching a summer advocacy pilot program for young women in the Mission, ages 16 to 24, with immigrant backgrounds who are passionate about social justice.

The advocacy training will be held in the afternoons from July 9 through August 1. Upon completion of the program, a $400 stipend will be provided to the young women.

Through the summer institute, the aim is that the young women will take back what they learn to their communities, schools and workplaces, with resources, an additional stipend, and mentorship from the Women’s Building to carry out future advocacy projects this fall or next spring.

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis, but the priority deadline is Wednesday, June 19. You can apply here or in the Google Form below.

While there is no set curriculum, Ortiz said, participants will generally learn “advocacy against gender-based violence, community organizing, leadership, public speaking, the basics of sexual assault and harassment prevention, along with self-care.”

“A wave is coming,” Ortiz said. She hopes that the cohort of intern-activists, known as advocacy interns, will be an “offensive force and organize against violence, sexual assault and rape” — especially with the creation of the Office of Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention, which was signed into law last September.

With so many emerging female activists, the #MeToo movement and the 36 women of Congress’ history-making 2019 freshman class, Ortiz said, “There’s a fire and we want to utilize this energy and change the paradigm culturally and through legal policy.”

Te imagines! Que tienen la fibra para cambiar,” she said, which means, “Imagine that they have the strength to create change.”

“And we want to encourage that.”

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