Raise Your Voices for a Global Response to the Global Pandemic

June has been a very busy month for our DFW Advocacy Chapter with RESULTS. On June 17, we had our chapter’s monthly webinar and learned about giving an “EPIC Laser Talk” when talking with our members of Congress. The EPIC format is used effectively by our partner, RESULTS, and stands for:  Engage, Problem, Illustrate or Inform, and Call to Action.

Our current call to action is to urge the Senate to fund a global response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s an abbreviated version of the EPIC talk for this call to action:

ENGAGE: The pandemic is still unfolding and has caused near universal disruption. The most marginalized communities face the greatest risks.

PROBLEM:  A new estimate from the World Bank suggests that COVID-19 could drive 70 million people into extreme poverty (<$1.90/day) in 2020.

INFORM about the solution: Without additional resources, the rate of world hunger and wasting will double, and this will threaten the lives of 1 million children; an additional 1.4 million people will be at risk of dying due to HIV/AIDS or tuberculosis, in the absence of diagnostic testing and treatment.

CALL TO ACTION: Will the senator support an additional $12-20 billion for foreign aid in the next COVID-19 relief legislation?

Another exciting opportunity we had this month was the RESULTS Virtual International Conference. Several members of our Advocacy Chapter attended this virtual conference, along with 800 other participants from all over the world. It was inspirational!  My absolute favorite meeting was with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) — what an articulate, compassionate, and extremely wise person. Among the highlights for me from his talk:

  • Spending on health is an investment, not a cost.
  • National unity and global solidarity are necessary to get ahead of the pandemic.
  • We’re giving the virus the opportunity to spread. It should not be used for political agendas, rather it should be quarantined.
  • When Dr Tedros was asked about the U.S. Administration’s threat to leave the WHO, he commented:
    • It’s not the money, it’s the relationship with the US that matters.
    • When others are safe, the US is safe.
    • PEPFAR (the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) gave hope to individuals, to families, and to nations.

The bottom line is that right now, unless we take decisive steps, we stand to lose decades of progress made in the reduction of global poverty. Some sources are even beginning to consider the terrifying possibility that we may return to the times of the Millennium Development Goals of 2000.  Without action, COVID-19 will have a devastating impact on low-income nations. The disruption of health services for mothers and children is already happening. There will be maternal and infant losses, pregnancies that were not planned, and children who cannot be provided adequate care. Food and drug supply chains have been interrupted which has made essentials either unavailable or too expensive for most to consider. Drugs to treat HIV and tuberculosis are less accessible, causing many to die. The goal of decreasing global poverty will face enormous setbacks, and there will be longstanding challenges to recovery.

But allow me to return to my mantra as an advocate — patience and persistence lead to empowerment — and share one of the highlights of the RESULTS’ Advocacy Week for me. Many of you know that I had NO experience with contacting my legislators before getting involved with RESULTS , but I emailed and called and repeated and persisted and, over a couple of months, developed a relationship with my congressman’s senior staff. Yes, it was out of my comfort zone, and some might have considered it nagging, but I always did it with a smile. And I was rewarded by having my congressman — who happens to be the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and who notoriously doesn’t meet constituents or hold in-person town halls — spend over 35 minutes with me, another chapter member, and several RESULTS Greater Boston chapter members with whom I was lobbying. It was a wonderful lobbying session during which we gained a great deal of information, and he supported every one of the actions we brought to him. The  majority of lobby sessions will be with legislative staff, who are well-informed and extremely vital to ensure that our request is acted upon. They rely on us to bring these issues and the specific letters to their attention.

If you have not already taken action, consider trying it out here.

  • Look up the staff and phone number for your Senator here. Find the Legislative Director (LD), and if available, the Foreign Policy aide. Directing your comments to a specific person within the senator’s office is helpful.   Contact Ken Patterson if you need help finding staff.
  • Use the EPIC Laser Talk above to call and email both your Senators’ Legislative Director and Foreign Policy aides. Form their email address with this formula:  firstname_lastname@SenatorLastName.senate.gov
  • Follow up until you get an answer. Persistence makes all the difference here. Staff are busy and, although it seems counterintuitive, they actually appreciate your help in staying on top of your request.
  • Call or email me at advocacy@diningforwomen.org if you are having any difficulty.

The Advocacy Chapter will hold our next webinar on July 15th. Advocacy can be transformational. Please consider trying it out as we work to increase our impact on global poverty. You can find more information and sign up here.