2017 International Conference–"Political advocacy has never been a more urgent calling"
RESULTS advocate Asia Bijan Thompson stood on stage at the 2017 RESULTS International Conference and explained how an upcoming Senate vote on healthcare would impact her personally.
“My daughter is alive today because of Medicaid,” said Asia, one of three RESULTS Experts on Poverty who spoke to an audience of hundreds on July 22, the first day of the RESULTS International Conference in Washington, DC. Her daughter had been premature, she explained, and only received the crucial care she needed as a newborn because of Medicaid, a federal program that was set to be gutted under the Senate bill. If that legislation had passed, she and her kids – and millions of others – could have ended up without medical care.
The audience – filled with RESULTS advocates from every state and 20 countries — sat rapt as Asia and her fellow Experts on Poverty spoke out about their personal experiences with anti-poverty programs and how those experiences informed their advocacy. Several members of the audience stood up to ask how they could best appeal to lawmakers to vote against the health care bill when they visited Capitol Hill a few days later. While the International Conference has always been a flurry of energy and excitement, this year there was a different feeling in the air: urgency.
With immediate threats to anti-poverty programs like Medicaid here in the U.S., and uncertainty about continued U.S. support for life-saving health and education programs around the world, every meeting on Capitol Hill and at the World Bank took on a heightened significance.
As RESULTS Executive Director Joanne Carter acknowledged during the conference kick-off, “Political advocacy has never been a more urgent calling or a more precious one.”
“Progress toward equity and justice is not guaranteed, and the arc of that progress is not a smooth one,” she said. However, she pointed out that RESULTS volunteers were already rising to the occasion. In the first six months of 2017, they had already reached a record number of media hits and set up more than 300 meetings with members of Congress.
“I believe the best hope for protecting the progress we’ve achieved, and for driving even greater ambition, is grounded in all of you,” she said.
RESULTS volunteers took her remarks to heart as they participated in dozens of workshops, skill-building sessions, and plenaries. From getting an inside view on how to talk to lawmakers, to learning how to craft personal stories for advocacy, to hearing rousing remarks from speakers like World Bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim (“There is no such thing as a hopeless person or a hopeless country”) and Khadija Gurnah of MomsRising (“You don’t have to be a voice for the voiceless, just pass the mic”) – RESULTS volunteers seized on the incredible energy around them and got to work.
On July 25, RESULTS Advocates held more than 300 meetings on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to not only protect Medicaid and vote against a harmful healthcare bill, but also to stand up for global education programs so that the most vulnerable children in the poorest countries can go to school. They asked lawmakers to sign onto a new bipartisan resolution that calls on the U.S. government to invest in the Global Partnership for Education’s multi-year strategy to give 25 million more children a quality education. Because of their efforts, the House version of the resolution already has strong bipartisan support.
During a break from nonstop meetings, RESULTS advocate Dina Alsaffar reflected on her first International Conference and her first time lobbying on Capitol Hill.
“I’ve always thought, ‘There’s so much happening in the world and I want to do something about it.’ This is actually doing something about it.”