Almost 1,000 CARE supporters gathered in the nation’s capitol for this year’s CARE National Conference and Celebration to learn more about issues that affect global poverty and to call our nation’s leaders to create a better future for all. CARE’s poverty work focuses on the empowerment of women and girls in the developing world.
We were addressed by Hilary Clinton, as well as by field workers from around the globe, legislators, NGO leaders and women who participated in CARE’s programs. We got a chance to learn in depth from CARE delegates about three pieces of legislation that are at crucial points in the U.S. Congress:
1. Global Food Security Act (S. 384 and H.R. 3077): Seeks to establish a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to reduce rates of global hunger by addressing the root causes of food insecurity and using U.S. government donations more efficiently.
2. International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (S. 987 and H.R. 2103): Seeks to reduce rates of child marriage worldwide by: creating a five year plan to prevent child marriage; highlighting the issue in the State Department’s Annual Human Rights Reports, and scaling up successful approaches to prevent child marriage in existing U.S. foreign assistance programs.
3. Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (Senate: Global and Maternal Health Bill, and House, H.R. 5268): Seeks to reduce rates of maternal mortality in the developing world by coordinating US efforts and focusing on simple, cost-effective interventions that save lives.
Read the full text of these bills and follow their progress through the legislative process at the Library of Congress site: http://www.thomas.gov/home/bills_res.html
Some reflections from the students and CARE delegates who met them:
Maeve Williams ’10: “In just two days, I feel I made changes like never before. I have always advocated on social justice issues, but meeting with decision-makers helped me come to understand the power of the legislature. Advocacy is tough, slow work. I was impressed by how efficient, well-run and multi-dimensional CARE is. They have lobbyists, on-the-ground field workers and policy makers. The issues are closer to me now. I have been following the child marriage issue, and will continue to do so.”
Myriam Piquant ’10: “The conference was a great experience. I felt empowered and like I was actually able to make a difference in the lives of women in the United States as well as around the world.”
Erin Saif (Northeast group leader for CARE): “Maeve and Myriam raised the bar for the Massachusetts delegation this year. Our three issues (food security, preventing child marriage, and ending maternal mortality) were not easy issues and not for the faint of heart. However, Maeve and Myriam were extremely knowledgeable (they studied up!), passionate (they each brought a personal story to the issue they presented), and great collaborators (they chipped in with facts and convincing arguments to help the rest of the team). They truly took Capitol Hill by storm. The experience was a true introduction to the inner workings of our democratic process and Capitol Hill – and Maeve and Myriam stood strong and used their time in Washington, DC, to advocate for the world’s poorest citizens.”
Danielle Gabriel: “As a CARE employee, it warmed my heart and spirits to see Maeve and Myriam, a new generation of our advocates/supporters, sitting at the table as we began to prepare for our march on the Hill. I was awe-struck by their enthusiasm, commitment and businesslike manner. I also learned by observing them brainstorm facts and developing personalized stories to relate to the very people we were speaking on behalf of. I felt in the issue of preventing child marriage they were the voice of the group, since they were not much older than the girls involved. I’d also like to thank you, Kit, for having the foresight to include them. You are amazing and truly inspire those who have the pleasure to be in your presence.”