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Legislation and Public Policy Program Bulletin

GFWC: Advocacy for 2009 and Beyond

As GFWC members look to 2009 and beyond, it is an historic time of political change. GFWC has been at the forefront of a number of critical legislative campaigns including the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act, the precursor to the modern Food and Drug Administration, and the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the International Violence Against Women Act. What legacy of advocacy do you wish to leave for future generations of GFWC members?

There are several national legislative campaigns GFWC will be participating in during the 111th Congress. Each initiative will fall under the GFWC Legislation and Public Policy Priorities. A tremendous amount of public policy will be covered under each of these priorities, including vaccinations for shingles, breast cancer prevention, increased funding for alternative energy and much, much more. 

As GFWC members look to affect change on the national, state and local level it is important to have a few reminders about advocating:

  1. Is the topic a GFWC issue? If a topic is covered by a GFWC Resolution then it is a GFWC issues and members may assert that they are representing the opinion of the entire organization and its more than 100,000 members. If a state or club has a Resolution topic not covered by a national GFWC Resolution, members must specify that they are speaking on behalf of their club or state only.
  2. How do I contact my legislators? Write a letter! This is a simple and highly effective way of contacting elected officials. State the bill name and number, your position on the issue and make a specific request to vote for/against the bill. Make sure to include your contact information and state that you are a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs, with more than one hundred thousand members. Why are groups like AARP and the National Rifle Association so powerful?  When their members contact elected officials, they make sure to let them know they are part of a much larger group who share their opinion.  Visit www.House.gov or www.Senate.gov to find the mailing address of your representatives in Congress.
  3. What is advocacy? GFWC members should feel free to advocate on any issue that is covered by a GFWC Resolution. Advocacy, sometimes called lobbying, is simply the act of letting your elected officials know where you stand on an issue or a specific piece of legislation and asking them to support your stance.
  4. What can local clubs do? There are many things clubs can do to participate in the work of the Legislation and Public Policy Committee. Check out each issue of GFWC Clubwoman Magazine's Watching Washington column, or subscribe to monthly LegNets, an electronic newsletter with timely information about important legislation, and take action on the issues. Invite legislators to bring a nonpartisan message and invite the general public. This is a great way to recruit new members too!

—Shirley Gomes (Mass.), GFWC Public Policy Committee Chairman

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