Summer of HER Summits
Against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a national reckoning on race, our virtual Summer of HER program chugged on successfully throughout the summer with our organizers and fellows recruiting and engaging volunteers remotely. The program culminated with an exciting day of summits—on both the east and west coasts—at the end of August.
The summits brought together our fellows, staff, and key champions in Congress to talk about fighting to ensure a future that includes reproductive health and rights for everyone, everywhere.
At the eastern summit, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH-3) gave a rousing speech about fighting for reproductive rights and women’s rights, and about the power within all of the young organizers brought together by #Fight4HER. She emphasized that “our vote is our voice, and it is our power, and it speaks to our values,” while encouraging activists to “think about the women whose shoulders we stand on, when we think of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment.”
In the western summit, Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7) talked about the evolution of his commitment to reproductive rights for everyone, everywhere, built upon his experience as a doctor, a former public health professional, and a father of a daughter. He rightly noted that “you can’t empower women if you don’t empower them to control their own reproduction,” highlighting this as a “fundamental right.”
Reps. Beatty and Bera are both original co-sponsors of the Global HER Act and have been long champions of international family planning and reproductive health and rights for people around the world. Our #Fight4HER teams in Ohio and California have formed strong relationships with the offices of both representatives, who are enthusiastic and outspoken supporters of our campaign.
To further engage activists online, we hosted a very successful Twitter rally as part of the summit agenda, asking participants to share videos of themselves explaining why they are #Fight4HER voters. The rally featured Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), one of our longstanding champions, and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH-1), another strong advocate of the #Fight4HER. Our staff, volunteers, and fellows also shared their thoughts, and these messages collectively had 954,806 impressions and 2,741 engagements on Twitter.
In her video, Sen. Shaheen shared her commitment to fighting for health, empowerment, and rights: “As the only woman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I’ve led efforts to advance women’s rights across the globe. But the fight for women’s health care depends on all of us—all of us across New Hampshire and the country.”
As the fall months progressed, we continued to utilize the best tools at our disposal to continue educating and activating people about the #Fight4HER. Relational organizing—drawing from personal networks to recruit new people—proved to be a very successful tactic for engaging people virtually, at a time when everyone is leaning on their communities like never before.
Fight for the Supreme Court
On September 18, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away from cancer, leaving behind a rich legacy of fighting for gender equity, pay equity, reproductive rights, and civil rights. The very next day, Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, as her replacement.
Over the next month, a hard-fought battle to prevent Coney Barrett’s confirmation before the inauguration of the next president was waged. We worked in coalition with a broad range of groups, including Planned Parenthood, People for the American Way, and Alliance for Justice, under the leadership of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
The central message of our fight—that it was wholly unconscionable for the Senate to ram through a Supreme Court nominee while neglecting to pass a substantial COVID relief package during an ongoing pandemic—resonated strongly with people around the country.
Over the course of this month-long effort, we urged our supporters to call their senators, sign our petition, and let it be known that they did not support this rushed process. In addition to supporting and amplifying the work of our partners with digital rallies and Twitter storms, we collected 1,846 petition signatures, and our supporters made 298 calls to Senate offices, urging their senators not to vote in favor of a confirmation until after Inauguration.
With the election of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President, and the election or re-election of pro-family planning candidates to both houses of Congress, we look forward to engaging our activists in a push to make international family planning a priority. As the transition to the next administration moves forward, we’ll be advocating for a quick repeal of the Global Gag Rule, an end to the longstanding Helms Amendment, and an increase in our international family planning investment, to $1.6 billion, including $111 million for UNFPA.
Our activists and volunteers are excited about the possibilities 2021 holds.