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Policy and Advocacy
Posted by: Jon Thompson at 4:17PM EST on March 31, 2011
On March 8, CARE kicked off its 2011 Conference and International Women's Day Celebration in Washington D.C. with a tribute concert by recording artists India.Arie, Michael Franti, American Idol alum Crystal Bowersox, Sarah Darling, and, in an exclusive U.S. premier performance, Idan Raichel.
Breakfast and Welcome Plenary
CARE's annual conference opened on March 9 to a packed Washington Hilton ballroom of 1,100 advocates from across the country.The room was charged with excitement for a stellar line-up of influential speakers and issue experts including CARE President and CEO Helene Gayle, Melinda Gates, Mrs. Laura W. Bush, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Ambassador Melanne Verveer.In addition, CARE staff from nearly 40 countries—from Egypt to Afghanistan—participated in the conference and shared their unique in-country perspectives.
Dr. Gayle began the breakfast plenary by welcoming the youngest participant,10-year-old Maya, who sold eggs from her chickens to raise money to attend the conference, and the oldest participant, 90-year-old Eileen Meader.This year's conference had record-breaking participation with 1,100 advocates from 49 states.
''We know that empowering women is the single most effective means we have of fighting poverty,'' said Dr. Gayle. ''Today is about working towards a world that acknowledges the power and potential of women as a matter of fact: a world in which the only limit for a woman is the reach of her dreams and how far she's willing to go to make them reality.''
''In many places around the world, myths hold back half of society,'' explained Dr. Gayle.''Myths yank girls out of school.Myths cause hunger.Myths mean that women don't get the health care they need.Myths kill.''
CARE unveiled a unique report, ''The Top 10 Myths about Women & the Heroes Who Bust Them,'' in honor of the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.
''Change comes when people stand up, speak out, and refuse to accept things as they are.Myths come tumbling down because women in the most unlikely places see their own promise, even when others doubt it, and dare to fulfill their potential, no matter what stands in their way,'' added Dr. Gayle
Dr. Gayle motivated the crowd as they headed into a day of training on CARE's three priority issues: keeping the foreign aid budget intact, empowering girls through education and financial opportunities for women.Helene noted the timeliness of advocates' efforts on Capitol Hill as budget talks remain front and center among members of Congress.
Following Dr. Gayle's remarks, Ambassador Melanne Verveer thanked the advocates and CARE Country Directors for all their tireless work and for advocating on behalf of poor women and girls everywhere.Ambassador Verveer fully supports CARE's mission to empower women as she has witnessed the resiliency and the strength of women across the world to be the ''agents of change'' in their communities.
''No country can get ahead by leaving half of their population behind,'' said Ambassador Verveer.''Women and girls are the world's greatest untapped resource, and investing in them is one of the most powerful forces for international development.''Ambassador Verveer acknowledged the importance of CARE's work in girls' education and access to financial tools for women as significant ways to alleviate poverty.
Legislative Issue Trainings
Following the breakfast plenary, participants met with their lobby groups and began to learn about CARE's legislative priority issues.Maya, the 10-year-old who sold chicken eggs to raise money to attend the conference, sat with a group of advocates from Maine.Among them was another young girl named Kiran.Maya and Kiran met at last year's conference and became fast friends.They both advocated against child marriage and have since become pen pals.This year, excited to be together again, they both decided to focus on education.
''My favorite part [of the conference] is learning about issues and meeting with members of Congress,'' explained Kiran.She said she likes talking to her representative because ''it makes me feel like I'm important.''
Luncheon keynote speaker Melinda Gates, co-chair and trustee of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was met with a standing ovation when Dr. Gayle introduced her to a packed ballroom. Gates addressed the 1,100 CARE advocates and supporters on the importance of investing in women and girls in developing countries.
"We're not just haggling over a line item in the budget," Gates told the crowd when discussing critical foreign assistance funding. "We're talking about saving millions and millions of lives."
In preparation for the more than 300 planned Hill visits the following day, she urged the advocates to share amazing stories of humanitarian aid and the lifesaving impact it has had in developing countries with their members of Congress.
USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah closed the luncheon session by stressing the importance of sustainable development.''The best way that we can serve our interests in the developing world is to create the conditions where our assistance is no longer necessary,'' explained Dr. Shah.
He praised CARE's achievements and our deep connection to the communities in which we work.Dr. Shah also encouraged CARE's advocates to push their representatives to oppose cuts to the foreign assistance budget.
Our assistance is not just a line in a budget, it is a reflection of who we are as a country,'' said Dr. Shah. He added that significant cuts to foreign aid would ''effectively end six decades of bipartisan tradition of U.S. leadership in global development.''
The Girls Matter break out session was one of the most lively gatherings at the conference. With a room packed to the brim, students and Girl Scouts sat on the floor to hear CARE's Basic and Girls' Education Unit Director Sarah Bouchie, USAID Senior Gender Advisor Caren Grown and Girl Scouts of America Senior Vice President Laurie Westley talk about one of the most fundamental elements for global development: the education of girls.When you put a girl in school ''you tell the entire community that she is worth it, and hopefully while she is there she can help to… start to change some of the perceptions about what girls should achieve and how girls and boys should be treated'' said Bouchie.
I Am Powerful Dinner
After an inspiring day hearing from leaders in politics, media and global health, attendees gathered back together to hear from former First Lady Laura W. Bush. She was introduced by her two daughters, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Bush, who had served as panelists earlier in the day. ''A century of progress has shown us that when you educate and empower women, you improve nearly every other aspect of society,'' Mrs. Bush told the crowd.
After Mrs. Bush's keynote, Kathy Betty and Mark Brock, owners of the WNBA team, Atlanta Dream, presented the ''I Am Powerful'' Award to Peninah Nthenya Musyimi. Peninah is founder of Safe Spaces, a nonprofit in Nairobi, Kenya, that uses basketball to empower girls living in the slums. Peninah's can-do spirit was on full display during the awards ceremony, telling the crowd, ''Tough times never last but tough people do.''
Capitol Hill Day
On March 10, 2011 over 700 people flooded Capitol Hill to raise their voices to end poverty across the globe. CARE advocates had more than 350 meetings with members of Congress and their staff, urging them to oppose cuts to the foreign assistance budget, support the upcoming Education for All Act and future legislation impacting economic opportunities for women.
Dylan Yarbrough, a sophomore at Arkansas Tech University was the first to speak at a morning meeting with Senator John Boozman. His first trip to Washington, D.C., and first time on Capitol Hill, Dylan boldly announced that he was here to give a voice to millions of women and girls around the world.He pushed for maintained foreign aid, pointing out that cutting aid meant cutting lifelines for people all over the world.Inspired by CARE's conference and meeting with members of Congress, Dylan plans to start a CARE chapter at his school.
During the afternoon, Massachusetts advocates gathered in the Capitol building to visit with Representative Barney Frank. The team was made up of a group of women who had clearly bonded during their morning meetings on the Hill.While none of them knew each other before the conference, any passer-by would have thought they had known each other for years.After running from office to office all day, their energy was waning, but their enthusiasm was still vibrant and bold.When the congressman pushed them and challenged them on an issue such as foreign aid budget cuts, the advocates politely but firmly challenged him back. When informed that CARE had over 130,000 supporters in Massachusetts, Congressman Frank and his staffers were surprised at the large number.As a very well prepared and very professional group, these women had all of their ducks in a row.They were up to date on what percentage of foreign aid cuts were being presented on the floor; they articulated the benefits of girls' education and details about the upcoming Education for All Act.By the end of the meeting, you could tell that Congressman Frank and his staffers were pleasantly surprised at the competence of the advocates and the clarity of their presentation.
Posted by: Laura Bellinger at 11:40AM EST on April 22, 2010
by Dr. Helene Gayle, CARE president and CEO
Climate change has the potential to wipe out the last 25 years of development gains in some parts of the world. As the number of natural disasters has doubled within the last 20 years, the world's poorest people are already experiencing the effects of climate change. More than 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty on less than $1 a day, and 70 percent of these people are girls and women.
Climate change acts as a multiplier of existing threats to food security, education, health, natural resources and the day-to-day struggle for survival. Greenhouse gas emissions create more extreme weather patterns, shift seasons and change the amount of rainfall and average temperatures, causing crops to fail and water supplies to dry up or run over.
CARE has worked on climate change for decades and is helping lead the charge with one of the largest adaptation programs in the world. We have a three part approach:
Unless action is taken now to help the most vulnerable people adapt to climate change impacts, it will not be possible to ensure the food security of a growing (and migrating) world population.
We must – and can – do more.
Here's what you can do to help:
Posted by: Deesha Dyer at 4:36PM EST on February 5, 2010
We’ve seen the images, heard the statistics and given what monetary donations we can. We’ve spent nights on our knees praying, days filled with thoughts, and minutes counting our blessings.
Posted by: Abdul-Razak Saeed at 12:18PM EST on December 7, 2009
The much awaited COP 15 in Copenhagen, Denmark is finally here and from today, Monday 7th December till Friday 18th December, the world will witness with full stare the commitment of our leaders…better still If I may borrow the words of Connie Hedegaard, whether our leaders are ready to “move the world from an era of talk to an era of change”.
Since the inter-sessional climate talks in Bangkok, I have seen increased interest by Africa and for that matter my country Ghana, in the governance of climate change. Ghana government and other NGOs in Ghana such as Friends of the Earth, Civic Response and SEND Ghana have expressed the need to pressure the developed countries to take on emission reduction commitments that are required to avoid dangerous anthropogenic climate change that threatens the survival of humans as a species.
Over the past couple of months, my government has undertaken what one may call necessary baby steps in the governance of climate change especially in the vein of having a participatory climate change governance system in-country. The genesis of this participatory process has involved information sharing on the issues of climate change and subsequent discussions to pick up from the Ghanaian citizenry their ideas on addressing climate change. Workshops and seminars have been held for variant citizenry groups such as NGOs, traditional authorities and media. The culmination of all these workshops was a national forum held on 2nd December that informed citizens the position that Ghana was taking to COP 15. Among other things, the main highlight from the national forum was that Ghana along with the other countries of the African Group was going to COP 15 to ask for the developed countries to take on emission reductions of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020.
Coming from a country that is experiencing impacts of climate change and may experience worse, I am hoping that developing countries can actually make the Annex 1 countries especially USA to feel the heat for the need to take action. It is a welcome thought that Presidents and Prime ministers of certain countries will be present at the COP 15 but let us hope that they do more good than harm; it is either they are instrumental in helping come out with a good legally binding deal or by their presence, rather draw attention to themselves and let focus be lost in the negotiations and thus they delay the process.
We all know how great an orator President Barack Obama is, and I for one am worried that USA may be playing the “Obama-mania” card with his Excellency’s presence at the COP. Serious negotiations under COP 15 may become arrested due to the presence of “Pollywood celebrities” such as his Excellency President Obama. For those of us from developing countries, the possibility of this stunt spells double doom as a USA is not prepared to take on serious commitments and may by this act delay what the negotiations could achieve.
I am not familiar with the USA system of governance but it is interesting to note that when it comes to Climate change negotiations, the President declares his inability to contribute anything concrete until a bill is passed through the senate; however, when about 30,000 soldiers had to be sent to Afghanistan, there was no waiting for the senate to decide, the President just announced it…this leaves me to wonder, how devastating does USA want Climate change and its impacts to become before they get serious?
As a working partner of the CARE “Southern Voices Project”, I am by this asking the developing country delegates and negotiators to pressure the developed countries to take on deep emission reduction commitments and also asking the Annex 1 countries especially USA to “STEP IT UP”…if greenhouse gas emissions continue, it is not Mother Earth who will die but rather the human race who will as Mother Earth adjusts other components in her system in accordance with the GHG concentration in the atmosphere to ensure a balance.
We owe it to the generation yet unborn to save our climate …we can, so we must!!!
Posted by: suvas chandra devkota at 1:20AM EST on November 23, 2009
Livelihood of Poor: A CENTRE AGENDA OF Climate Change Talk
Climate change is not only a debate among the sellers and buyers of CO2. It is the related to the livelihood of poor and marginalized people which are under the risk situation as the impacts of the climate change.d
The affects of the climate change can observed around the world, however the poor, marginalized people of the poor world are adversely suffering. The developed and industrialized countries those are liable and responsible for climate change should honest, accountable to address the impacts also.
The impacts of the climate change are observed elsewhere. Occurring of drought, flood and unpredictable rain fall patterns have adversely influenced on biodiversity, plants’ habitats and habits including agricultural activities in local level. Numbers of evidences are noted as the impacts of climate change in local level, such as: change in vegetation pattern, habitat expansion of crops and species, and loss of biodiversity (some valuable species). These have big implications to the livelihood system of the local communities especially poor and marginalized groups. Resulted is that women and children under poor, marginalized group are more vulnerable and in risk conditions. The situation is being worst and unpredictable. Every year hundreds of people are suffering, due to the exposure of vector-borne diseases like; as malaria, diarrhea, cholera and hunger. Likewise thousands of people are displaced as the flood and landslide victims in the country.
The negotiations process of the climate change is still uncertain and unpredictable. To address and response of current vulnerabilities therefore, has become an urgent need. I think livelihood of the poor vulnerable communities should be a center theme for making strategies and measures to cope the impacts of climate change as they are likely to become more prevalent.
Communities are trying to response to address the threats of climate change in local level based on practical experiences and knowledge. But these initiations are not adequate to address the magnitude of climate change threats. Therefore need base technology is an important to minimize the effects of the climate change and to develop the appropriate technology and capacity enhancement of the people are also crucial issues to address the results and impacts of the climate change.
On this context, the developed nations who are more responsible to debasing the climate should pay more attention and priority on livelihood of the poor people of the poor world during the of climate change talks.
Posted by: CARE at 1:55PM EST on June 11, 2009
We are parents who hold our children on our lap while listening to conference calls about the latest developments in fighting poverty. We are individuals who hold corporate jobs and sneak to an empty cubicle to call our politicians on pending humanitarian issues being voted on in Congress that day. We are students, who arrange to be absent from class for 2 days so we can travel to DC on our own dime to attend the CARE National Conference and lobby with our officials about hunger and gender-based violence. We are retirees that use our free time to meet with Senators in our home district to make sure they know that their constituents want action for the mother in India, Africa and Asia who has to choose which child to feed that night.
Yesterday, Congress passed H.R. 2410, a bill that includes authorization for an Office for Global Women's Issues. The Prevention of Child Marriage provisions, also provisions for Food Security are included in that bill. These are the issues which CARE advocates took to Washington, DC last month.
Yesterday, I felt a personal connected to this legislation. It could be because I’m a CARE advocate or maybe because I'm a woman, but I think it is because I am human.
Thank you fellow volunteer CARE advocates for leading these double lives. The joy of yesterday happened in part – because of you.
Posted by: CARE at 1:30PM EST on May 8, 2009
There's so much to say about the importance of advocating for women and girls around the world who don't have the power to speak up for themselves. There's so much to be said for hundreds of people who, despite a rampant economic crisis, set aside time and money to travel and stand up on behalf of those girls and their communities. But what you don't expect from attending this conference is the impact it will have on you, as an advocate.... (more)
Posted by: CARE at 9:21AM EST on May 7, 2009
Real quick – I forgot to tell you something exciting about Day 1 of the CARE Conference. My first year, 2007, I noticed that there weren’t many Black women here and I really, really was concerned about that. I know so many Black women that are concerned about poverty, and CARE is an organization about women, so why weren’t they here? I sought out to change that.... (more)