By Betsy Dunklin, Advocacy Committee Chair
Support is growing internationally to put women and girls at the core of a country’s foreign aid to end extreme poverty. Will you add your voice to keep the U.S. moving in this direction? Now is a perfect time to tell your representatives in Congress how you feel. It is especially important to counter the administration’s renewed proposal to slash programs aimed at global poverty reduction.
This spring, the various subcommittees of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are holding hearings to prepare their proposals for the 2019 U.S. budget. Of interest to us are the House and Senate State Foreign Operations (SFOPS) subcommittees because they propose the foreign aid budget.
In addition to hearing testimony from government leaders like the Secretary of State and the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) about the funds they need for the programs they manage, the subcommittee members consider the opinions of their constituents. We encourage you to use the power you have to make your views known to your two Senators and Congressperson. You can find their contact info here.
Even if your elected officials are not on either of the Appropriations Committee, they still are interested in what you think, which will matter when all members of Congress vote on the final budget negotiated between the House and the Senate.
Your voice is especially important because the administration has repeated its goal of slashing our foreign aid budget by 30 percent or more. The administration attempted a similar 30 percent cut in the 2018 budget, but because foreign aid has strong bipartisan support, Congress limited the cut to 5 percent. However, any cut disproportionately affects women and girls who bear the brunt of extreme poverty. And, even if there is “only” a 5 percent cut again in the 2019 budget, the cuts add up so eventually the administration could reach its goal.
Foreign aid empowers citizens of developing countries and helps ensure equitable economic growth to benefit those in poverty, especially women, who are the primary agents of change in their communities and best positioned to forge a better future for their families. Please use the power you have as a U.S. citizen and let your members of Congress know your views.
Ask your representatives to increase foreign aid funding to end extreme poverty and to promote aid programs that promote gender equality. Studies show that elected officials are most persuaded by personal messages that include why the issue is of importance to the constituent.
Dining for Women has tools that will make this easy for you. Add your voice to your DFW dollars and act today.