DfG Advocacy: Volunteers Making a Difference on a Legislative Level
"What would your mom say if she met the Prime Minister? Because mine took the opportunity to tell him about the reusable menstrual kits she makes for girls in [low-income] countries," the daughter of Days for Girls Canada President, Terry-Lynn Stone, shared in a Facebook post last week.
Terry-Lynn's daughter was referencing her mother's recent interaction with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a Kamloops, BC town hall meeting on Tuesday, February 8th. After leaving a Days for Girls meeting earlier that evening, Terry-Lynn decided to try her luck at getting into the town hall, hoping she would have the opportunity to address the Prime Minister--and she did!
"I thanked him for spearheading the G7 initiative last year to spend $3.8 billion on girl’s education in developing countries...Then I told him that while providing schools and teachers is wonderful, it doesn’t help if the girls can’t go to school because they don’t have sanitary supplies," Terry-Lynn shared. Sure enough, her question piqued the Prime Minister's interest and he sent an aide over to get her contact information and discuss further collaboration with Days for Girls.
Terry-Lynn's experience is a perfect example of simple ways to be an advocate for girls' education, and women and girls' rights and empowerment around the globe. Advocacy can start with something as small as sending an email or calling your local legislator's office--or attending a town hall meeting--and can grow to be as big as getting laws on menstrual supplies passed in your state. And we have volunteers who have done that too!
Janet Schiller, leader of the DfG Rockville Maryland USA Chapter was recently instrumental in getting a law passed in Maryland to provide menstrual supplies to women and girls in Maryland's homeless shelters, schools, and prisons.
After learning that women lacked access to menstrual health supplies in her own community, though she considers herself "painfully shy", Janet knew that she wanted to make a difference. She started her advocacy efforts by connecting with an individual in her community whom she believed had contacts that could point her in the right direction. This simple effort got the ball rolling. Her contact introduced her to a delegate in the Maryland General Assembly, and it turned out that the assemblywoman was completely unaware that this problem existed among her constituents. After legislation was introduced, Janet was invited to testify with the assemblywoman at an Appropriations Committee hearing. On May 25, 2017, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed the new law, which went into effect on July 1, 2017 with almost no opposition.
"What my experience demonstrates is that you don't need to be an experienced lobbyist to bring about legislative change. What you need is a meaningful issue, and the willingness to speak up about it," Janet shared.
Janet and Terry-Lynn's stories illustrate how much the efforts of one can make a difference! Giving the issue a voice, even a "painfully shy" voice, is a powerful and positive force towards change.
Are you be interested in working at a local level to get legislation passed!? Janet has created some resources for volunteers within the USA to get involved. Click here for more info.
Tiffany Larson is Days for Girls Global Chapters Director. For more information about volunteering with or starting a Chapter or Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org