By Alexandra Behette and Hannah Sydnor-Greenberg
As our field team crisscrosses the country this fall, we are meeting some extraordinary people who are making a difference for family planning. We’re finding these people at film screenings, talks, and student groups everywhere from Arizona to New Hampshire and places in between. We’ve even added something new to the mix—a mini Capitol Hill Days advocacy series.
Just like our annual Capitol Hill Days event, which takes place in Washington, D.C. each spring (next year it will be held from April 15-19!), our mini Capitol Hill Days series teaches students how to lobby their senators and congressperson to support the increase of US funding for international family planning aid and the Global Democracy Promotion Act.
Here are a few highlights from two of our recent action-packed trips:
At Ohio State University we practiced mock advocacy meetings and learned communications strategies with the student group, Global Health Initiative, as part of our mini Capitol Hill Days. We are happy to report that the students felt confident walking into meetings with their senators’ and congresswoman’s staffers.
We met with even more incredible activists in Columbus at our screening of the film, Vessel. We partnered with two of our longtime volunteers, Susan Halpern and Amanda Patton, to put on an event where local activists told stories about challenging opposition to reproductive rights in Ohio and beyond. A woman who works for a local Planned Parenthood stood up and spoke eloquently about what needs to be done in Ohio to protect women’s choice.
The event was “wonderful,” said Amanda, who added that the reception “was a great opportunity to network with women from all walks of life.” She sold t-shirts to benefit her pro-choice billboard campaign (prochoicecats.com) and recruited several women to sign up for the local abortion clinic’s volunteer escort training session. All in all, it was a success!
After a fantastic trip to Ohio, we went to Colorado where we met with student groups, academic departments, and community organizations.
Our national field director, Rebecca Harrington, spoke to the Boulder Atheists group. The conversation covered everything from the current political climate to the intersection of religion, politics, and contraception, as well as the evolution of Population Connection’s work.
We then headed to the University of Denver for a film screening of Not Yet Rain and a discussion panel with the Josef Korbel School of International Studies’ Center on Rights Development. Rebecca spoke on the panel along with Karen Hampanda, a gender and health professor at the University of Colorado Denver, and Jordan Reif, who worked with Pathfinder International on reproductive health issues in Ethiopia.
Later that week we toured the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center, which offers services ranging from annual exams and abortion care to a variety of men’s health services and transgender services. After the tour I had the pleasure of attending the center’s annual Condom Couture event—a fun fashion show where local designers create outfits out of condoms. Although I got to rub elbows with some of Boulder’s local celebrities, the best part, by far, was the Hollywood-themed fashion. It was a great way to end the trip!