In a year that holds the possibility for the progressive resistance to take back Congress from the clutches of Donald Trump and his cronies, 350 activists stormed D.C. for the weekend to speak out against Trump’s Global Gag Rule, and to urge their elected officials to support the Global HER Act and a $1.2 billion U.S. investment in international family planning — including $70 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Student activists and Population Connection Action Fund members and supporters from thirty states and D.C. gathered for a weekend of learning about the impact of U.S. policy on real lives abroad and the international effort to ameliorate the damage of the Gag Rule, and to defend the reproductive rights of individuals around the world.
Advocates also engaged in discussions about reproductive justice and effective storytelling, and learned tangible skills about how to effectively engage with our #Fight4HER campaign and to plan attention grabbing grassroots events and actions.
The weekend kicked off with the presentation of the fourth annual “Empower Her, Empower Humanity” award, presented to Congresswoman Jacky Rosen of the 3rd district of Nevada, and a viable opponent of Sen. Dean Heller in this fall’s elections. In her relatively short time in Congress, Rep. Rosen has proven to be a fierce voice for women and their reproductive rights, and we look forward to supporting her throughout this election cycle.
One of the many highlights of the weekend was hearing from Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng — better known as “Dr. T.” An abortion doctor and reproductive justice advocate from Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. T inspired the crowd to use their voices to speak up for social, reproductive, and economic justice. She also urged participants to trust black women, who’ve been organizing and standing up to oppression for a very long time, and who are the backbone of the current resistance to Donald Trump.
At the lobby day following the weekend, student and veteran advocates swarmed the Capitol, meeting with their Senate and House offices. For our large contingents from Arizona, North Carolina, and Ohio, constituents stood for meetings in hallways and gathered in special reserved meeting spaces to accommodate the huge numbers of activists eager to speak to their legislators.
A highlight of the day was when a young Pittsburgh advocate bravely hosted a “meeting” with a cardboard cutout of Rep. Mike Kelly (R/PA-16) after he refused to meet with her. She told him loudly and clearly that he needs to rethink his stance on Trump’s Global Gag Rule and reproductive rights, and informed him of the damage being done to lives around the world by his lack of support for international family planning.
We’re looking forward to this tremendous group of activists leading the #Fight4HER through the remainder of 2018, and into the midterm elections.