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. Details
While many might think there is nothing to do in this post-election period, our Together Women Rise advocates are stepping up their advocacy in order to get legislation onto the President’s desk for signature before the end of the year. In particular, we are still reaching out to Senate and House offices for their co-sponsorship of the End TB Now Act and the READ Act Reauthorization. We cannot afford to let another year pass without ensuring that money allocated during the appropriations process is spent in the most effective manner. It is essential that we reverse course on TB and girls education to make up for horrible losses in progress due to COVID-19. Details
The main goal of the Together Women Rise Advocacy Group with RESULTS is to guide us in building deep relationships with our members of Congress (MoCs) and their staff. These relationships then become the way we influence policies and funding affecting women and girls around the world. As we approach election day, there is no better time to begin this relationship-building than by joining campaign events, town halls, and the many other forms of voter engagement that are now occurring pre-election. During these events we connect with candidates and educate the public about the issues we work on. It’s the interview process before, we the people, hire representatives to work for us in government. Details
As summer comes to an end and we ready our kids to return to school, there are many children missing out on education. In many low-income countries, children — especially girls — will not be returning to school due to inadequate education systems, discrimination, early and forced marriage, or pregnancy as a result of transactional sex or gender-based violence. And when this happens, most girls are unable to return to school. Their education comes to an abrupt end, and their futures are forever changed. Details
It was a pleasure speaking about why and what we are advocating for at Together Women Rise’s May national webinar. For those of who missed it, the recording can be found here. Our past two grantees—Yamba Malawi and Second Mile Haiti—are excellent examples of why and how we can address malnutrition. It is important to both support our grantees and their direct services as well as to advocate for Congress to fund nutrition, maternal and child health on a macro level. Each of these approaches — and even better, both together — will go a long way toward eliminating the tragedy of malnutrition. Details
As Together Women Rise advocates, we mostly work on two kinds of legislation –authorizing legislation and appropriations legislation. Authorizing legislation creates and/or expands programs that have authority for multiple years and need to be reauthorized. An example would be the global nutrition bills that we’ve been working on recently, HR4693 and S2956. Details
This month I want to talk about The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria (Global Fund), for which the US is hosting its Seventh Replenishment Conference later this year. Together Women Rise advocates learned about the Global Fund on our Feb 15th webinar. Click HERE to see the webinar recording and slides. Details
It’s a new year with new beginnings and new hopes and aspirations. How will you be taking control of your third COVID winter? Perhaps we can help you channel your frustrations by training you to become an advocate, effectively raising your voice for global gender equality. Details
By Dr. Leslye Heilig, Chair of the Together Women Rise Advocacy Group With RESULTS
Last month I spoke about my outrage over our failure to do more in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. As some of my colleagues say, this represents over five million policy failures, as we have surpassed this number of reported global deaths, though the true number is likely far greater. Details
I keep asking myself this question: where is the outrage? How have people become numb to the struggles of those who do not have access to the COVID-19 vaccines? Ten thousand people die globally every single day on top of the millions who have already died. Yet there still is not a plan to ensure vaccine access to everyone. Where is our empathy, our morality, our conscience? Details
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: Details
Being an advocate seems daunting – and all the more so if we’re speaking up for others because there’s the added pressure of making sure we stick to their message.
What many people don’t realize is that we’ve all been lifelong advocates — for ourselves, our families, our schools, communities, and more. A lesson that most of us have learned over that long arc of advocacy experience is that we are most effective when we speak for ourselves and share the unique message that comes from our hearts. Details
June has been an exceptionally busy time for our advocacy group. Many of us attended the RESULTS International Conference held on June 12 and 13, followed by Advocacy Week during which we joined other advocates to meet with congressional offices. You can listen to many of the speakers and workshops from this conference here. In particular, I recommend the session on global education, which included Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, and Maryjacob Okwuosa, a Youth Leader for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), from Nigeria. One of my other favorite sessions discussed nutrition and global health equity. Feel free to wander through the recordings as there were many excellent speakers. Details
In April, the Together Women Rise Advocacy Chapter With RESULTS was busy making time-sensitive appropriations requests for FY22. Now we are asking our members of Congress (MOC’s) to sign on to letters in support of global education and nutrition within the foreign affairs budget. This year we are requesting large increases for global nutrition — $300 million, which is twice what was allocated last year; and $150 million for the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which is an increase of $25 million over last year. Details
By Jim Hennigan, member of Together Women Rise National Advocacy Committee and the Advocacy Chapter With RESULTS
If there’s one thought that haunts me, it’s the fact that for all of the greatest women we can name, there are hundreds – probably thousands – more of them of equal talent and courage and character who are unknown to the world because they never had an on-ramp to opportunity. Details
With elections behind us and a new Administration taking office this month, there is change in the air. What a perfect opportunity to join us as we build relationships with the new Congress to influence policies affecting women and girls! Dining for Women’s partnership with RESULTS has helped us build new relationships and new skill sets which are changing the world for women and girls. Now is a great time to come on board and raise your voice. Details
Advocacy, as I heard recently in a webinar on human migration and child health, is no longer an elective pursuit. It is the positive actions we take to make change. Right now, public health is our priority as the world is facing a once-in-a-generation pandemic. COVID has and will continue to change the world as we know it, and the most marginalized— women and girls—are suffering the most. As the Gates Foundation said recently in its 2020 Goalkeepers Report: “We’ve been set back about 25 years in 25 weeks.” It further states that “What the world does in the next few months matters a great deal.” Details
By Ken Patterson, Director, Grassroots Impact for RESULTS, DFW’s Advocacy Partner
Congress left DC for the long August recess with no agreement on a Covid-19 supplemental spending bill. This has left millions of people in the U.S. and around the world in dangerous predicaments. Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in low- and middle-income countries are struggling to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 on regular efforts to combat diseases, vaccinate children, provide basic maternal care, combat malnutrition, and provide basic education. (See graphic on COVID-19 impact on global health.) Some are projecting that progress on global health could be set back 10-20 years. And women and girls are impacted the most!Details
I have been a member of the Vancouver, WA chapter of Dining for Women (DFW) for 10 years. A couple of months ago, I decided I wanted to take a more active role in helping marginalized women and girls. I looked at the DFW Advocacy Chapter webpage, where I learned about DFW’s partnership with RESULTS. RESULTS is a grassroots organization that promotes policies to end global poverty. Their goals dovetail nicely with DFW’s. I participated in the June DFW Advocacy Chapter meeting and a RESULTS orientation call, and then I joined my local RESULTS chapter. My timing was perfect! Details
June has been a very busy month for our DFW Advocacy Chapter with RESULTS. On June 17, we had our chapter’s monthly webinar and learned about giving an “EPIC Laser Talk” when talking with our members of Congress. The EPIC format is used effectively by our partner, RESULTS, and stands for: Engage, Problem, Illustrate or Inform, and Call to Action. Details
We have now held our third monthly advocacy meeting since we launched our partnership with RESULTS. I am so encouraged by the interest and the active participation. We can change the world, now with one letter to the editor at a time. Advocacy is a positive and rewarding activity, one that holds more value with each additional day of this pandemic and new world we are navigating. Details
When Rep. William Timmons (SC-4) signed a letter supporting an additional $1 billion in funding for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria, it sent minor shock waves among groups that advocate for Global Fund support. Rep. Timmons’ participation was important because he is a newcomer to these types of letters and could help influence other SC representatives. People were asking around DC, “Who got Timmons to sign on?” and the answer came back to them: “It happened because of DFW members working with RESULTS!” Thank you to Rep. Timmons, and a huge THANK YOU to the DFW members who contacted and encouraged their local representatives to urge them to take action. Details
By Chris King, Co-leader of DFW’s CA, San Francisco-1 chapter and member of DFW’s Advocacy Committee
Extreme poverty is an unrelenting churn of chaos and difficulty for families, yet they survive. There is a lot of pressure for people to leave the violence and poverty they face in a country like Guatemala. Details
By Betsy Dunklin, Chair of Dining for Women’s Advocacy Committee
Experts on the well-received advocacy panel at our National Conference (see photo) emphasized that NOW is the perfect time to add your voice to your dollars to help impoverished women and girls in developing countries.
Action on the just-passed FY2018 and proposed FY2019 budgets is taking place in both the House and Senate over the next month or so. The Administration has proposed a more than 30% cut to the International Affairs (IA) budget for FY2019. The IA budget is historically just 1% of the total US budget.Details
Support is growing internationally to put women and girls at the core of a country’s foreign aid to end extreme poverty. Will you add your voice to keep the U.S. moving in this direction? Now is a perfect time to tell your representatives in Congress how you feel. It is especially important to counter the administration’s renewed proposal to slash programs aimed at global poverty reduction. Details
By Betsy Dunklin, Dining for Women Advocacy Committee Chair
Last fall, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dining for Women’s volunteer Regional Leaders at their annual retreat. I was encouraged to hear that many chapters are not only excited about our new advocacy program, they are raring to go!
Dining for Women is collaborating with Oxfam America to elevate the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in U.S. foreign aid. Oxfam, a global social justice organization working to end extreme poverty, offers resources and a depth of experience in this field that is valuable to Dining for Women as we develop our Grassroots Advocacy Program. We, in turn, have an extensive network of members passionate about improving the lives of women and girls in developing nations. By combining forces, we can increase the emphasis on U.S. foreign aid focusing on gender equality.
By Nancy Jacobsen, member of DFW’s Advocacy Committee and the CA, Tiburon-1 chapter
Remember the pie chart from the Advocacy Committee blog in the September issue of The Dish? Many of you may have been surprised to learn that only 1% of the U.S. federal budget goes to international affairs. This month, we are going to dive more deeply into how that 1% is broken down and how the federal budget, including the amount designated for international affairs, is determined. It is important to know how this process works if we are to understand how we, as DFW members, can make an impact on behalf of women and girls. Details
In Tajikistan, Mahkfirat Saidrahmonova is showing other women in her community what it takes to successfully run subsistence farms thanks to a program called Feed the Future.
In Afghanistan, a challenging but rewarding internship program is providing Sayeda Korga with job skills that will give her independence and economic security as part of a program called Promote: Women in Government. Details
By Betsy Dunklin, Dining for Women Advocacy Committee Chair
Did you see that ecstatic dance of joy at the end of the video on Mali Health, our May grantee? It epitomizes what Dining for Women members often note, that despite extreme poverty and oppression, these women find happiness from their new-found skills, their support of one another, and, perhaps most of all, a sense of power and control over their own lives. And they use this to change the power dynamics within their families, their communities, and their nations. Details
When our board of directors adopted advocacy as one of DFW’s four programs, it put into place something that many members have been requesting for years. In fact, at DFW’s national conference in 2013, members called for a plan to add our voices to our dollars. They wanted DFW to have a larger role, through advocacy, in setting U.S. public policy related to poverty and inequality for women and girls in developing nations. Making advocacy part of DFW’s 2020 Vision is exciting because it means we can make an even bigger impact — by combining our collective donations, our collective knowledge, and our collective voices! Details
In looking at what DFW has achieved towards our 2020 Vision, the pieces that stand out the most over this year are our partnership with the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Program, welcoming the voices of our members into more areas of decision making than ever before through committees and volunteering, and continuing to present life-changing and inspiring projects and issue education for our members. I’m excited to share a more in-depth look at our achievements. Details
We are very excited to announce our latest steps toward achieving DFW’s 2020 Vision. We are launching a new Operational Committee structure which will allow our members to engage more in the decision-making processes of DFW and influence the directions we will take in the future. Details
As the board and I worked to culminate the voices of members, leadership volunteers, and staff for the 2020 Vision, we had to look hard at the desires of the future. Most importantly, we had to understand what Dining for Women is trying to change. This instigated a very interesting discussion because, as we have been pointing out throughout this year, there are many points of change in our model. As we pursue our vision of change, we recognize that Dining for Women must create a number of transformations along the way: Details
In my very first week at Dining for Women, I sat around a table with our Board of Directors while Barb Collins, Board Chair and Co-Founder, asked each of us to share our “Dining for Women Story”. It was my first time meeting Anne Capestrain, but she told a story I will never forget. She shared how DFW had given her the opportunity to be a part of other women’s lives and, in doing so, she was inspired and her life had been transformed. I have visited about 50 chapters this year and have heard similar stories across the country.
Over the past year, our Board has been listening to and reflecting on many points of view from our members, our volunteer leaders, committee members, and our staff. From this, a dream has emerged for the future of our organization, and we want to share it with you.
As DFW members and supporters, we know that you share our passion for improving the lives of women and girls around the world through gender equity and empowerment. No matter how far apart we live, or what our life experiences are, we are all connected in deep and meaningful ways because of our shared vision for what we want DFW to accomplish, and what it brings to each of us in terms of heartfelt connection with each other and the broader world.
Women and children in conflict zones around the world are far more likely to be killed, raped, injured and torn from their homes than actual combatants. The Women Peace and Security Act offers protection for women on the ground and a seat at the negotiating table. But it is languishing in Congress. What can DFW do to help?
DFW recognizes that our mission of making a meaningful difference in the lives of women living in extreme poverty cannot be separate from our commitment to promote gender equality.
This is reflected in our recently revised vision statement: “We envision a world in which millions of lives have been transformed and extreme poverty has been reduced because Dining for Women has connected people in creative, powerful ways that assure gender equality. “
One of the most prevalent symptoms of gender inequality is gender-based violence. As Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn explained in the introduction to their book, Half the Sky, more women have been killed just because they are women than all the men killed in all the world wars of the 20th century combined.
Harmful practices like sex-selective abortion, female infanticide, suicide, honor killings, bride burnings, and rape are all components of gender-based violence. Estimates are that up to one in three women will be a victim of gender violence at some point, and in some countries, as many as 70 percent of women are victims. Gender-based violence, one of the most egregious of human rights violations, is a public health crisis and a barrier to some of the world’s greatest challenges: eradication of HIV and AIDS, extreme poverty and political stability in some of the world’s most conflict- ridden countries. Details
Gloria Steinem, far right, with (from the left) Diane Wege Sherodan, Marsha Wallace, Elizabeth Howard, Jessica Neuwirth and Joan Davidson.
By Marsha Wallace Co-Founder, Dining for Women
My recent tour of the Northeast region was a dream come true,. It began with visits to the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and Susan B. Anthony’s home in Rochester, and ended with dinner at friend’s apartment in New York City, where I had the privilege of spending the evening with Gloria Steinem.
I was thrilled to be able to share the mission of DFW with Steinem, who remarked that our model of fostering meaningful connections and thought-provoking dialogue among our members “is how the feminist movement gained momentum. …Making enough room for discussion is critical for deepening our understanding of the issues.” Details
The International Violence Against Women Act is one of several important pieces of legislation around the world needed to stop stoning, rape, assault and other forms of inhumane and degrading treatment of women around the world.
The Women Peace and Security agenda’s goal is to empower women – representing half the world’s population – as equal partners in preventing conflict and building peace in countries threatened by war and violence. Details
If you talked to your child’s teacher, questioned your doctor or sent a letter to the editor of your paper, then you have acted as an advocate.
“We are each advocating for a host of important community and personal issues every single day,” noted Nancy Delaney, manager of community engagement for Oxfam America. “As members of the Dining for Women community, you’ve each become advocates for the women and girls whose lives and dreams you support.” Details