WOV NYC Advocacy Chair Katherin Park provides an insider's take on WOV Advocacy Day:
On Tuesday, March 6th, approximately 200 women from 24 different states arrived on Capital Hill with bright orange folders that contained our appointment times with our two U.S Senators and few House of Representatives and the talking points to discuss with them. There was nervous but excited chatter as we got off the bus because we knew that we were about to lend our voice for the voiceless in our own country and those in the poorest parts of the world. Before we each left for our individual appointments, we prayed together as a group so that we'd be bold in our speech and that God would soften the legislators' hearts as they listened to us.
Six women from the NYC chapter attended Lobby Day. We met with staff members of Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Representative Carolyn Maloney (14th District), and Representative Jerrold Nadler (8th District). We first urged all of them to pass a bi-partisan TVPRA so that we can better fight human trafficking and protect the victims, particularly the children. We pointed out the fact that this bill has passed with bi-partisan support in the past and that they should not use the current political climate as an excuse for inaction against modern day slavery.
Second, we asked them to support a strong funding for global health and nutrition programs for 2013 within the International Affairs budget (which is less than 1% of our total federal budget). We reminded them that poverty-focused development assistance supports economic growth in a developing country, which in turn decreases the likelihood of violent conflicts arising.
Thanks to you, we left stacks of your letters advocating TVPRA's support with Senators Schumer's & Gillibrand's offices. WOV chapter members from Connecticut and New Jersey also gave your letters to the NJ senators.
After our meetings, we returned to the conference to celebrate our collective efforts on the Capital Hill. We heard back reports of positive responses from several legislators, which were received with loud cheers. Next, we were charged to continue in our efforts advocating for the voiceless, being reminded of the passage in Luke 18 of the Persistent Widow.
Amy Batson, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID, and Samantha Power, the Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the Staff of the National Security Council shared a powerful update on the progress we've made around the world through the efforts of our government working along with NGOs in various humanitarian work.
We concluded our evening by visiting the new Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. As we read each inscription of Dr. King's excerpted speeches and sermons, we received great inspiration to continue our work of advocacy.
As a result of Advocacy Day, we have 4 more co-sponsors on the TVPRA - with 100% support from Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington senators.. There is still a lot of work to be done, but letters, phone calls, and in-person meetings were heard loud and clear in 3 states! We need to continue to put pressure on Congress and take this momentum to the next level so that they act beyond just co-sponsoring this bill. This is about right and wrong issue, NOT about right & left issue!
A huge hurdle is the House of Representatives. . . . They are really stuck on this bill currently because there is no bipartisan support for the House version. Please call your House representative and tell them to pass a BIPARTISAN House bill.
Visit our Take Action page to learn how to get more involved.