By Susan Wright, leader of the Together Women Rise CA, Oakland chapter and member of the Together Women Rise Advocacy Group with RESULTS. Susan is also a former Peace Corps volunteer and staff member with USAID.
International assistance accounts for less than 1% of the US federal budget, but it still represents an important proportion of all foreign aid. Over 20% of all US foreign aid supports health and education programs vital for women and girls, whether through global, multi-donor programs or through funding for country-specific activities. US funds provide critical inputs such as medications; training of doctors, educators, and nurses; and development of country-specific educational materials. Without US government support for these broader efforts, the work of grantees funded by Together Women Rise and the ability of women and girls to take advantage of their activities would be severely hampered.
However, despite its minimal impact on the national budget, foreign aid can be, and often is, an easy target for those wanting to cut the federal budget. Therefore, US lawmakers need to hear from their constituents, and be reminded frequently that their constituents care deeply about these programs. And we must urge them to maintain adequate funding for these programs. This is why Together Women Rise urges you to advocate to your Senators and Representatives on behalf of critical programs! We have a strong partnership with RESULTS, which focuses on support for key global and domestic anti-poverty programs so that jointly we can get our messages across.
For example, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a major donor for Maternal and Child Health and Nutrition programs in low-income countries. Advocates from Rise, working closely with RESULTS, are urging $1.15 billion in funding for USAID Maternal and Child Health programs including support for GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, and an additional $300 million for nutrition programs. We are also advocating for $1 billion for global Tuberculosis programs, which lost so much momentum due to the COVID pandemic. Imagine how important these programs are to the health and futures of women and girls in low and middle-income countries!
For those interested in diving deeper, on March 21st there was a program to announce the new framework for preventing child and maternal deaths for 2023-2030. You can watch that webinar here.
Please consider lending your advocacy support for specific programs and/or becoming a member of the Together Women Rise Advocacy Group with RESULTS! You can sign up for this group here. We have many practical tools to make it easier and more productive for you, with mentoring and other support. Whether in messages or meetings with individual lawmakers and their staffs, or other forms of communication such as Letters to the Editor or social media, it is a great way to support our grantees and magnify our impact.