Democrats Abroad Global Women’s Caucus: Energy and Persistence in a Time of Need

By Erin Becker, DA Chile

The Democrats Abroad Women’s Caucus is expanding its reach, thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers in many countries around the globe. The Caucus is gearing up to make its mark on the lead-up to the 2018 midterm elections. It plans to be a catalyst to action on issues affecting American women, both in the United States and abroad.

Those interested in joining the Women’s Caucus can contact Caucus leaders Salli Swartz or Ann Hesse at womenscaucus@democratsabroad.org.

The election of President Trump has seen a dramatic increase in threats to women’s rights. The president’s agenda poses many challenges to women’s health and well-being, such as the re-installment of the so-called Global Gag Rule; attempts to expand the rights of employers to deny contraceptive coverage in their company insurance plans; an uptick in attacks on abortion rights at the state level; and a health care bill that would repeal many of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions benefitting women and their families.

The Trump administration has also threatened the civil rights of some of the most underserved groups of women, including the withdrawal of Obama-era protections for transgender Americans and increased deportations and attacks on immigrant rights that leave women especially vulnerable.

Finally, the Republican-controlled government poses a great threat to women’s economic security, with a budget that would cut funding for many programs used by women in poverty––including nutrition aid for women and children––and a renewed indifference to the wage gap women across the United States still face.

The DA Women’s Caucus recognizes that this is a crucial time for action to defend and bolster women’s rights in the United States. Members are ready to take on these challenges. Ann Hesse, Stuttgart Chapter Chair in Germany and Co-Chair of the Global Women’s Caucus, notes that members across the world have been enthusiastic about increasing their involvement and founding in-country groups advocating for women’s rights.

For groups just getting started, activities include monthly online meetings and webinars featuring speakers from women’s groups and members of Congress. Medium-sized groups can begin forming their own country chapter of the Caucus, sponsor workshop weekends, and stage events. Finally, countries with well-established chapters can create their own working committees, hold teach-ins and film nights, and invite internationally-known speakers for live events.

On Inauguration Day, many Caucus members participated in the Women’s March, both in Washington, DC and around the globe. Large Caucus meetups have been held in Norway and Germany. On their own or with country committees, individual members from many different countries have written postcards to Congress and made phone calls advocating for women’s issues. In Latin America, Caucus members are currently working to establish a DA presence in Colombia and Haiti, with other countries to follow. New member Erin Becker has helped spread a pro-woman message outside the Democrats Abroad communication channels, blogging on reproductive rights in both Chile and the United States for Safe Abortion Women’s Right and Ms. Magazine.

Ann Hesse––the Caucus co-chair living in Germany––believes that Democrats Abroad members should take advantage of their view of the United States from the outside in. Many members have experienced life with the support of feminist policies already working well abroad: affordable healthcare, free education, a social security net, maternity and paternity leave, and more. Democrats Abroad members can use this knowledge and experience to advocate for similar programs in the United States. The Women’s Caucus strongly believes in their responsibility to spread this knowledge to other Americans, and to press the US government to provide these basic, common-sense programs for people back home.

It’s a challenging time for women’s rights in the United States, but one that Democrats Abroad is facing with energy, dedication, and persistence. Democrats around the world are making their voices heard––and don’t plan to stop anytime soon.

Keep up with the Women’s Caucus at democratsabroad.org/wc_news. For more information or to get involved, contact Caucus Co-Chairs Ann Hesse and Salli Swartz at womenscaucus@democratsabroad.org.

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