March 31, 2009

Five Things You Can Do to Become an Advocate for Women's Economic Justice...

In follow up to our “American Women and the Great Recession” series, we here at Make Social Change a Reality wanted to give you some simple, yet important, things that you can do on your own to become an advocate for women’s economic justice and affect change!

So, where should you start? Well, there will be many opportunities in the coming year to make your voice heard and join the movement to create economic justice for women, and we have listed the top five…read on for more information and follow the links below to take action!

(1.) Get educated and know your facts. What are the issues, and what are the policy changes that need to occur in states and on the federal level to give women a better shot at economic equality? There are some fantastic organizations out there in the non-profit world that conduct research, gather information on women and families, and produce great resources on women’s economic issues and getting women and families out of poverty. Check out a few examples:

· The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) – provides information on economic justice issues, including childcare reform, healthcare, workplace fairness, pay equity, child support enforcement, strengthening social security and a host of other issues. Click here to start reading their “Platform for Progress” on building economic security for women.

· The Guttmacher Institute – generates in-depth research and information on just about every aspect of women and girls’ reproductive health, and where and how the United States is greatly lacking in providing access to sexuality education, family planning information and services for women and girls, and how this contributes to poverty in the US. Click here to start reading a recent Guttmacher report on how expanding the national family planning system would reduce poverty among women and families, unintended pregnancies, and the number of abortions each year.

Many of these policy organizations offer advocacy toolkits, complete with talking points and writing guides, in order to help you take the next step in your advocacy, which brings us to #2…

(2.) Reach out and let your voice be heard – This is budget season. Contact your state legislative offices and/ or your national representatives in Congress and the Senate, and tell them that you care about women’s issues, and that women and families should not be forgotten in this year’s budget. Cuts to health and human service programs tend to hit women and families the hardest, so get involved. President Obama has included expansions for education, family planning, and economic security in his budget. Click here to read more on the President’s budget, and let Washington know that you are listening.

(3.) Volunteer your time – Programs that serve women and families are always in need of help, and especially during these economic times, when organizations have to downsize, cut spending, and utilize their resources in more creative ways. Find a local women’s shelter, afterschool program for girls, etc. and volunteer your time: it is a mutually beneficial way to help women with instant results that you can see! For opportunities in your area, check out these great volunteering sites:
· Volunteer Match,
· United Way,
(4.) Expand your network and get involved – Join a local or national organization, such as a YWCA or the Younger Women’s Task Force, that stands up for women’s rights and advancement, and you will meet other advocates, be kept up to date on recent policy issues and developments, and be informed on how you can continue to take action. Don’t wait for someone else to join, they need YOU! Check out Idealist to search for women-focused groups and organizations.

(5.) Join the movement – Attend an event or conference for women’s advocacy this year, and you will be energized and empowered to keep fighting for women’s economic success. Several national organizations, such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), are dedicating their entire national conference agendas to women and economics this year…and don’t be turned off by the price tag, many of these conferences and events can appear expensive, but there are usually opportunities to apply for scholarships, carpools, and travel-sharing in order to make them more affordable for people, especially young people, to attend.

Well, what are you waiting for? It looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you – no seriously though, even if you just picked the one step that is most important or feasible for you from this list and acted on it, your move to action will make an impact. Be sure to check back in with Make Social Change a Reality and let us know how you are doing with your advocacy on behalf of women!

Written by Emily J. Kronenberger, Policy Analyst at the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities and founder of New Wave Grrrl, a health information and resource sharing blog for women. Emily is a volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project, serves on the Board of Trustees at the Alice Paul Institute and volunteers as the Director of Policy Initiatives at the Younger Women’s Task Force of New Jersey.

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