This past weekend, nearly 350 people from all over the country came to Washington, DC, to fight for reproductive rights around the world. The program started on Friday afternoon with a rally outside the White House, where fired up young people chanted slogans and cheered for speakers including Melvine Ouyo, a former reproductive health care nurse from Kenya (and current Harvard student), Norma Jimenez from Planned Parenthood, and Deekshita Ramanarayanan from the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). Later that evening, we gathered again for a welcome reception culminating in the presentation of an award to Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) for her long history of support for reproductive rights here in the U.S. and around the world.
Sessions got underway bright and early Saturday morning, with participants breaking out into groups to learn about topics like maternal mortality around the world, faith-based advocacy, and how to lift up the voices of young people fighting for reproductive justice. After a lunchtime presentation on art as activism featuring artivist janet e. dandridge and filmmaker (and Trump Hotel projector) Robin Bell, along with a keynote address from historian and writer Cynthia Greenlee, afternoon workshops began. Participants learned about the newest research on the effects of the Global Gag Rule, how to plan high-impact advocacy events, and how to push for an inclusive agenda in the reproductive rights sphere.
On Sunday, all activists attended two trainings: one on how to lobby their members of Congress, and another on how to support a cross-movement, intersectional agenda for progressive change.
And on Monday? Off to the Hill! Our activists visited more than 150 offices, pushing their senators and representatives to support the Global HER Act and asking for increased funding for international family planning programs and restored U.S. support for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Of course, there is always at least one office that declines to meet with our activists. This year that (dis)honor went to Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ). But not to worry—our activists found a way to make sure she heard their message anyway!