COVID-19 has posed new, immense challenges for nearly everyone around the world. While we reckon with the serious health implications of the global pandemic, right-wing politicians are exploiting the crisis to advance their anti-abortion agenda. Several states across the country have used the pandemic to put forward dangerous abortion bans. Outside of the United States, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on health care systems already strained by funding cuts under Trump’s Global Gag Rule.
We know that the fight for reproductive health and rights around the world is more important now than ever. Over the past several months, our staff, organizers, and activists have integrated new ways to push forward in the #Fight4HER while maintaining the health and safety of our communities. Most notably, we launched a completely online version of our annual Summer of HER program, designed to train activists on crucial advocacy and activist skills to build power for reproductive health and rights around the world. From our monthly national volunteer calls to digital advocacy workshops to virtual global reproductive rights meme parties—our activists aren’t letting COVID-19 slow down the momentum of our movement.
Summer of HER
In 2018, we launched our first-ever Summer of HER organizing program—a 10-week field project working in nine target states—designed to give fellows the tools they need to mobilize action for global reproductive health and rights. In 2018 and 2019, fellows learned how to educate their communities about the impacts of U.S. funding policies on access to health care around the world, collect petitions calling on Congress to repeal the Global Gag Rule, effectively engage on social media, and plan high-visibility events that garner the attention of leading decision-makers.
In light of COVID-19, we decided to take this year’s program online. We have 118 fellows participating in our digital Summer of HER program—our largest cohort yet—who are phone banking, engaging on social media, and circulating petitions. They are also tapping into their personal networks—a tactic called relational organizing. Our fellows have made over 1,500 personal contacts, urging their friends and family to take action for reproductive health and rights around the world. The Summer of HER program will culminate with virtual Health, Empowerment, and Rights summits to engage fellows’ broader communities in the #Fight4HER.
National Volunteer Calls
In May and June, over 300 activists from across the country joined our monthly national volunteer calls to hear from reproductive health and rights experts.
Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and our Director of Congressional Relations, Stacie Murphy, joined our May national volunteer call to talk about Trump’s Global Gag Rule and the Global HER Act that would repeal it permanently.
Three guest speakers joined our June national volunteer call: Maya Hart of SisterSong discussed the principles of reproductive justice and how it is connected with racial justice and reproductive rights. Activists then heard from Melvine Ouyo, #Fight4HER advocate from Kenya, and Dickson Okong’o, Executive Director of STRETCHERS Youth, who discussed how Trump’s Global Gag Rule and COVID-19 have been impacting communities in Kenya.
Our activists are working hard to shift their work to a digital platform and reach as many people as possible. As the pandemic persists, #Fight4HER will continue to use digital activism to push forward a progressive agenda that prioritizes access to reproductive health care around the world.