Today I’m on my way to Washington D.C. for my annual spring lobbying effort. Usually it’s on behalf of the hemophilia community (I have 2 sons with severe hemophilia and am involved with our local non-profit). This year, however, I’m going on behalf of international women’s rights. Together with friends from our Phoenix-area Mormon feminist group, I am going to the CARE Conference.
I’m excited about the event. It’s larger than most conferences I’ve been to, with 1100 people expected to attend. Melinda Gates, Laura Bush, and Dr. Rajiv Shah are keynote speakers. We will celebrate international Women’s Day, learn more about the issues facing women around the world, then lobby our legislators on their behalf.
Our Congressman, Rep Jeff Flake, is Mormon whom I know from my parent’s stake, and my fitness club. We’ve met on several occasions, in his offices in Washington and Mesa as well as on bicycles at the gym discussing gubernatorial candidates. With his position on the foreign relations committee, we are hoping to help change his mind about the issues of women internationally. Despite our efforts and discussing this bill with him, he voted against the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act H.R. 2103 in December.
Last fall we met him in his local offices, and I promised to give him my book “Half the Sky” which he said he would read. It features stories of women around the world suffering from all kinds of terrible injustice and abuse. But it also has a message of hope, that we can help change the world for these women and girls.
I know many LDS women who are involved in issues of social justice, both at home and abroad. At the Exponent II retreat last September, I saw Judy Dushku present about THARCE-Gulu and her success with building homes in Africa. I admire her and her group immensely. Reading and learning about what other women are doing to help each other is part of the reason I am excited to participate in the CARE conference this year.
So, despite the lack of success we faced with this issue in the fall, I’m still hopeful that our lobbying efforts will help women in third-world contries by bringing greater awareness to the issues they face.
What are your experiences with lobbying?
How do you create awareness about issues that are important to you?