For the past couple of months, our Together Women Rise Advocacy Group with RESULTS has been working on global COVID vaccine access. We see this as an essential action if we wish to foster global gender equality, and it is the only solution to the COVID-19 pandemic available to use right now. During this pandemic, we have lost enormous ground with respect to global development. According to the United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) and the Global Fund for AIDS, TB, and Malaria:
- 13 million more girls are at risk of becoming child brides. This is on top of the 100 million already at risk in the next decade. This alone will reverse 25 years of progress.
- 2 million more cases of female genital cutting (FGC) are estimated over the next decade that would not otherwise have occurred.
- Globally, an estimated 243 million women and girls aged 15 to 49 have been subjected to sexual and/or physical violence by an intimate partner in the last year.
- 47 million women will be pushed into extreme poverty.
And the World Economic Forum’s 2021 Global Gender Gap Report found that, “as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt, closing the [global] gender gap has increased by a generation from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.”
Knowing this, you can appreciate why our energies are currently focused on global vaccine access. Unless we do what is needed to get this pandemic under control, our efforts otherwise will be for naught. We must strive for global vaccine equity if we wish to one day achieve global gender equality.
Currently, in Africa, less than 4% of people have been vaccinated against COVID. It has been said that, in Africa, “we have vaccine famine, not vaccine hesitancy.”
Our Together Women Rise Advocacy Group with RESULTS has taken several actions:
- We helped get 115 members of Congress to sign a letter led by Reps. Malinowski, Krishnamoorthi, and Jayapal, directed at Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer calling for US leadership and resources to ensure that COVID-19 vaccines get to everyone in the world that needs them. The letter asks that the budget reconciliation bill include up to $34 billion to speed up COVID-19 vaccine production for global distribution.
- We wrote to President Biden urging him to lead a global effort to bring together industry, governments, and global health institutions to urgently increase the supply of vaccines. And on September 22, he did just that with a Vaccine Summit at the UN General Assembly.
- Many of us have written letters to the editor about vaccine access with at least four members of our group getting published. Here are links to a few of them:
The United States should address the need for vaccines worldwide (The Times-News, September 15, 2021) by Barbara Clawson, NC, Burlington-1 chapter.
COVID vaccine: Global effort to distribute vaccines (The Seattle Times, Sept 2, 2021) by Amy Harmala, WA, Renton-1 chapter.
There were two more letters to the editor published in The Berkshire Eagle, one written by Michele Krieg Bauer (MA, Pittsfield-1 chapter) and one by me.
Now we are requesting that our senators make the same commitment as the House to allocate $2 billion in budget reconciliation to expand manufacturing capacity of the COVID-19 vaccines. You can join us by taking this simple action, without needing to formally join our group. The more of us who raise our voices, the more agency we have and the more we are able to influence our members of Congress.
Our next monthly webinars will take place on October 19 at 7 pm ET and on October 20 at 9 pm ET. If you would like to learn more about advocacy or join us, please sign up HERE. Learning how to effectively raise your voice is most empowering!