The Reproductive Rights Action Team has changed its name to Reproductive Justice Action Team which is defined as "the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities," (SisterSong Women of Color reproductive collective). It thus encompasses a larger agenda including all health issues surrounding reproductive rights and in particular rights of minority women.
The State of “heartbeat” laws can be found in this link and it is horrifying!
The Reproductive Justice Action Team is sending letters to all DA Ohio voters to urge them to lobby their legislators to vote against Ohio House Bill 413 which makes abortion a felony crime for both the pregnant women and medical professionals who assist. It can be punishable by death and there are essentially no exceptions. Please read the these documents - click on the images to open the files.
Equal Means Equal filed a lawsuit on January 7, 2020 that the deadline in 1972 ERA was unconstitutional.
Read the report on Bloomberg Law here: Equal Rights Amendment Backers Sue to Void Deadline
Let the GOOD guys win!!
Greetings from your Global Women’s Caucus team! It’s hard to believe another year is almost over and that in just ten short months, we will be in the middle of the most important election of our lives. This newsletter is chock full of ways to get involved in 2020 — fighting for reproductive rights, discussing important issues, and helping the Equal Rights Amendment finally become a reality. Happy reading and happy holidays!
March, Organize & Volunteer for Reproductive Rights in 2020!
January is Women’s Rights Month! And the Reproductive Rights Action Team has been very busy. Here’s what’s coming up in the new year:
The fourth Women’s March will take place on January 18, 2020. This year’s theme will be “March for our Human Rights.” GWC can think of no more fundamental human right than to have sovereignty over one’s own body. We encourage members to participate in marches that will take place around the world and/or plan group meetings around the theme of reproductive rights throughout January and beyond!
To help you organize your own events, we have put together a GWC Reproductive Rights Event Toolkit. All members are invited to choose elements from this collection of activity and event ideas to build their own unique events around our theme. All you have to do is click, get inspired, and organize! And please do share your event photos with us at womenscaucus@democratsabroad.
We are also organizing a letter-writing campaign to fight for our reproductive freedom. In January, we will send to Ohio and PA DA members a template letter to send to their state legislators to oppose bills that restrict our ability to control our bodies. In February, we will do the same for Florida DA members. We want to do this on a rolling basis for those states that are putting women’s reproductive health in danger.
AND we need more volunteers! Join our team and help us defend our rights. If you are interested, send an email to email@example.com.
ERA UPDATE: ALL EYES ON VIRGINIA
It’s looking good for Virginia to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in early 2020. In doing so, it would become the 38th and final state needed to fully ratify the ERA for the U.S. Constitution. The VA state legislative session opens on January 8, and bills have already been pre-submitted for both the House (HJ1) and Senate (SJ1). Hopefully, it is a done deal by our next newsletter!
You can also write to Nancy Pelosi, asking her to call for a floor vote on bill HJRes 79 that removes the deadline from the Equal Rights Amendment. Just one sentence is fine. It would be great to get that passed this year, and it already has the needed support to pass.
Get Involved: Host a Kitchen Table Talk!
Kitchen Table Talks are small group events held by Democrats Abroad members to talk about policy issues that matter to Americans abroad. Your Talk's feedback helps shape the 2020 Democrats Abroad Platform.
Our Global Women’s Caucus leaders would especially like to know your thoughts on women’s reproductive health, gender equality, and more. Your input will help us to shape a platform that really reflects the beliefs of all our women’s caucus members!
Explore some of the issues we're talking about — choose a general category to get started. Interested in moderating a talk? It’s easy!
CLICK HERE to read more about our Kitchen Table Talk Tool Kit.
Read Toni Morrison’s ‘The Bluest Eye’ with Books Abroad
Together with the Global Black Caucus, the Books Abroad organizers warmly invite you to join us in reading and discussing Toni Morrison’s revolutionary novel “The Bluest Eye.” During our discussion, we will tackle issues of cultural aesthetics, intersections of race and gender, and the ongoing struggle for black female voices to be heard.
We look forward to celebrating both the incredible work and woman with you on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at 7:30 a.m. EST/1:30 p.m. CET on WebEx.
Thank you for reading, and as always, stay tuned on our Facebook page for all the latest news.
Your GWC Team
Ann Hesse, Chair, Global Women's Caucus
Laura Depta, GWC Newsletter Editor-in-Chief
Heidi Burch volunteered as the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) Coordinator and Volunteer Director for DA Canada and joined the global GOTV team in 2016. Eileen Weinberg became the Switzerland Country Coordinator in 2016, and then joined Heidi as Global Co-Chair in 2017.
Following Election Day 2019, both spoke with the Global Women's Caucus about the GOTV team’s work, reaction to the recent election results, plans to Get Out the Vote in 2020, and more!
GWC: What is the GOTV team and what does it do?
Heidi Burch: The GOTV Team’s “core mission” is to get U.S. citizens who are living outside the U.S. (either permanently or temporarily) to vote in U.S. elections — and to vote for Democrats!
To do that, we engage in outreach to let them know that you can vote from overseas and provide them with the tools to register to vote and request their ballot. We do outreach via emails to DA members, phonebank DA members, post information about upcoming elections on social media, keep GOTV Coordinators and Country Committees up to date on GOTV issues, and help local teams with voter registration events for all U.S. citizens.
To facilitate voting, we help maintain the information and FAQs on www.votefromabroad.org, respond to voter questions on the Voter Help Desk, provide training materials to phonebanking volunteers and to voter registration volunteers, research election deadlines and specific requirements for overseas voters and also research issues with specific import to overseas voters, such as which states allow overseas voters to vote in state and local elections.
GWC: When and why did you join the GOTV team?
Eileen Weinberg: Quite soon after I started to volunteer with Democrats Abroad, I became really compelled by the significance of promoting the right to vote. I never encountered difficulties voting from abroad, but when I learned about other experiences, I realized I could make an impact. For me, voting, helping others to vote, and expanding overseas voter turnout are intrinsically important objectives.
GWC: What motivates you to do your important work?
Heidi: The tremendous need to elect Democrats to reverse the damage that Trump and the Republicans are doing to the U.S. and to the world!
Eileen: I see the situation in the world as a result of people feeling disconnected, angry, or desperate because they feel like they don’t have a voice, that government does not represent them. Voter turnout is the key to representational Democracy. Every politician knows exactly which part of their constituency votes, and when less than half of a district turns out for an election, it’s not hard to see why few seem to care about serving the public; when less that seven percent of voting-age Americans abroad vote, our needs are easy to dismiss.
It’s about participation too, we can’t expect others to serve us if we are not contributing. It will take time before every citizen will be able to see themselves in the politicians we elect, but the process begins by each of us insisting on our democratic involvement at the grassroots. Working with DA is my participation in our democracy, it’s real grassroots organizing, and it’s a great experience and education.
At the end of the day, it feels really good to help another person get through the confusing forms and contradictory instructions to discover how easy it is to vote by absentee ballot. Few things we get to do have such a direct and tangible result.
GWC: How did you feel when you learned the VA legislature flipped?
Heidi: I was thrilled! I know how hard all of us worked — particularly the phonebanking volunteers — to Get Out the Vote for all the 2019 state elections, and it was so gratifying to see such a huge payoff. The one-vote loss of the ERA back in the spring of 2019 was so tough, but it was also a great motivator as VA was so close. And more to home, I'm originally from Washington DC, so it's been wonderful to see VA evolve over the years to now being a blue state!
Eileen: Hopeful. Despite all the negativity, polarization, corruption, and lying, the people as a whole can still get it right.
GWC: What are you most proud of with your work so far, and what makes you hopeful for 2020?
Heidi: I think I'm most proud of how we've tried to set up a really good roadmap for people to follow to learn “how to GOTV” and to get them GOTV information.
When new volunteers sign up, there are phonebanking and voter registration trainings as well as checklists for CCs to do voter registration events, a Voting Blog with current information on www.democratsabroad.org/voting, research materials and copies of all materials we sent to voters on the GOTV Wiki page and a central email for GOTV questions (firstname.lastname@example.org).
What makes me hopeful for 2020 is the outpouring of support for voting. For months now, people have been contacting us to say they are desperate to vote in the 2020 elections and also that they want to volunteer to help others vote.
Eileen: We tried hard to listen. What were the problems voters encountered repeatedly, what were the resources DA volunteers wanted? All the information we distilled and repackaged in charts and posts and emails, it was us responding to requests, concerns and ideas from DA leaders and members globally. The feedback we got has been so positive. It not only confirmed that we were responding effectively, but receiving so much thanks is incredibly motivating to keep doing more.
I joked around with friends about the amount of work we were doing in the lead up to the 2018 election. I would say that I was only trying to keep up with the pace set by Heidi. It was and remains true. DA’s volunteers are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and it’s not surprising that we help each other deliver and keep focus on our goals.
GWC: What do you have planned to get out the vote in 2020?
Heidi: More outreach to U.S. overseas voters! We want to make sure www.votefromabroad.org has the most up-to-date information for overseas voters and is as user-friendly as possible. We also want to post election information pertinent to overseas voters on DA's and VFA's Facebook pages, send emails to DA members reminding them to send in their FPCA forms to get their 2020 ballots, help train volunteers to work on voter registration events and phonebanking, phonebank all DA members (as many times as possible!), answer questions about voting, and do everything we can to help overseas voters get their ballots and vote!
Eileen: Well, all of the same and more of it. We’ll aim to repeat the successes of 2018, still listening to concerns and feedback, and hopefully we will hear some new ideas. Growing the GOTV volunteer team early in the year will unquestionably have a positive impact on how much we can accomplish. Voting is a numbers game.
GWC: How can DA and GWC members get involved?
Heidi: Volunteer to help get out the vote! Some ways to get started are:
- Phonebanking is our most effective way to reach DA members. It's free to you, and you can do it when it's convenient for you. Go to www.democratsabroad.org/phonebanking for training materials and sign-up instructions.
- Help with voter registration events in your area. You can find training materials and instructions for setting up a voter registration event on the GOTV Wiki page.
- Social Media: If you're comfortable with social media, we’d love to have your help crafting posts with voting information for overseas voters.
If you're interested in volunteering, please contact email@example.com.
On 18 January 2020, women and allies around the world will join together to march for bodily autonomy.
In the last year alone, women’s reproductive, sexual and human rights have experienced a massive rollback around the world. For example, see this article in the Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2019/09/24/us-joins-nations-including-saudi-arabia-russia-there-is-no-international-right-an-abortion/?fbclid=IwAR2W9W7WBX7
That is why women around the world are committed to marching for bodily autonomy - the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressures. This includes abortion rights, sexual health and reproductive rights, sexual consent, period equality, family planning, medical treatments, and more.
Follow this link to find an event near you or create an event in your community: http://womensmarch.global/marchforourhumanrights/
Our DA GWC Reproductive Rights Team will also be sharing ideas for different types of events you can organize around this important issue, so stay tuned!
By Susan Fitoussi of DA France
I was elected a Chairperson for my Marseille/Aix chapter last March 2019.
Since then I have had the pleasure of attending monthly WebEx meetings with all French Chairs and ExCom members and even more recently attended a weekend retreat in the South of France for our French Committee — therefore meeting in person all these wonderful people that I had been interacting with on these Web calls.
When the bid for EMEA city came about I was thrilled! At last I may be able to attend a meeting in another European city and meet other DA members and Chairs! I said no matter where it will be I will go! And Athens it was… oh boy!!
I immediately got on board. I must have been one of the first people to express interest especially in visiting Athens, and since I had not taken any summer vacations, this would be both vacation and DA!
I chose to reside in an Airbnb to cut costs and laid out a rough plan for my first days to visit the city. I had some solo time before and after the meetings.
Meanwhile, Will Bakker (EMEA Chair) created a Facebook page for all willing via Facebook to communicate. This was nice. We posted messages — everything from who needed a roommate to who needed a taxi, etc. It was here that one of my first excursions and meetings with DA people came about.
With Heather Stone, DA Chair of Israel, and Katie Solon, our international Chairperson who I have known and admired from afar for years (!), we visited the very unique Jewish Museum of Athens. It was perfect! Each one of us complemented the other. Heather has a great knowledge of Jewish religious culture, I have a little connection with Greek Jewish history and Katie had many questions as we looked at the objects in the museum cases. It was a lovely experience and first-time meeting for all of us!
Friday night there was a very nice Welcome Party hosted by the DA Greece team. It was lovely, and we had authentic Greek mezzes and drinks as well as Greek folk dancing (which I did not do!).
Well to shift right up into fourth gear, the meeting began officially Saturday morning. I sat near the front, therefore I didn’t quite realize that we were about 100 people in attendance. Our speakers were so comfortable and friendly speaking in front of the crowd. We played some ‘getting to know each other games’ which is more or less what I naturally do when I meet people! This was a very useful tool — in spite of us wearing name tags, we do forget people’s names all the time.
What a fascinating and wonderful world we are as Democrats Abroad! I met Rick from Norway who came from a republican Alaskan family, for example.
Julia Bryant gave us a brilliant motivating speech and presentation of DA and some stats. I hope I will take back all her energy and transmit that around my chapter!
We had ‘breakout sessions’ which are new to me. I attended the Women’s Caucus on Saturday and the Black Caucus on Sunday with Angela Fobbs. She went in deep presenting us with facts and statistics on the conditions for Black Americans today in the USA. It hurts to know that these conditions get worse today instead of better.
We had many opportunities to sit, snack and exchange with different members, yet I hardly scratched the surface of the many people in attendance.
At lunch on Saturday I got to know Dana from Finland, a fascinating person with a long story and life abroad. Well it turns out that later, via Facebook, we learned that she was a very close friend of one of my Israeli American cousins in New York!
The thing is, all people should find connections and things that we have in common as well as things that we don’t have in common. Of course with DA it seems we all have so much in common.
The last day I spent with a group of five other women; it was improvised. It was my intention and idea to visit the fabulous BENAKI Museum. Heather from Israel said she would meet me there. In the end she was accompanied by four other women including Claire from DA Greece, who literally gave us a guided tour of the museum which she knows very well! What a wonderful way to end our time in Athens.
I said goodbye to these amazing people, and I hope to see them again. Would I do it again? Sure!
My name is Claudia Clark and I am the recently elected GOTV coordinator DA Germany. In order to properly discuss my experience at my first EMEA Regional Meeting in Athens, I find it necessary to briefly explain who I am and how I found myself in my current role, and thus in Athens. In no particular order I identify as: an introvert, a writer, a historian, a feminist, a political activist, a community organizer, and an American expat living in Germany. Both political activism and the sense of adventure are in my genes. My mother volunteered on Kennedy’s presidential campaign before she was even old enough to vote. She was a very gifted linguist (master’s degree in French literature), so she spent some time in France, and eventually answered Kennedy’s call and joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Africa.
I first visited Germany in 1990 following the fall of the Berlin Wall and fell in love with the country, and vowed I would live there someday. That “someday” turned into “get me out of the U.S. immediately” following the November 2016 election. While people protested in the streets following Trump’s victory, I planned my exit, and in September 2017, my husband, our 2 dogs, and I left everything that was familiar to us to begin a new life overseas in Germany.
I had been a political activist since I was 15 years old — doing everything from organizing protests for women’s reproductive rights to volunteering for candidates running for political office to organizing boycotts of the local Walmart. Because of the activism I had done in the United States, I was familiar with Democrats Abroad, and in fact I had joined their mailing list before I had even left the states. No sooner than I moved to Germany, I participated in events such as detention center protests and women’s marches. Because of my involvement, in February 2019 I was elected as the Get Out The Vote Coordinator for Germany. I figured this position would be an excellent opportunity for me to travel to different parts of Germany, meet new people, and engage in activities which where important to me. It was in this role that I found myself at my first regional meeting in Athens.
I knew accepting the position would expose me to different people and places in Germany, but the thought of being able to meet other people from different countries and visit places outside of Germany was an additional bonus for me. When I found out that I was eligible to attend the regional meeting in Athens (someplace I had never been), I was beside myself with excitement. Unfortunately, the trip to Athens came less than a week after my husband and I returned from vacation in Italy, where I had contracted a bad case of bronchitis. The bronchitis was bad enough that I was exhausted all the time, and I could barely talk because the cough was so bad. I knew going to Athens was probably a mistake, but unable to receive a refund for my flight or hotel at this late stage, I felt I had no choice but to go, and hope to get something out of the weekend anyway.
The conference was scheduled to begin on Saturday, so I made plans to fly out on Thursday night so I would have Friday to sightsee. My flight arrived after 8:00, so it was already dark. At the airport, I handed the cab driver the address of my hotel and asked him if he knew where it was. He nodded, and said yes. Ten minutes later, he turned to me and said, “GPS?” Not understanding what he was implying I ignored him. Five minutes later, he asked me again, “GPS?” At this point, I discovered he did not speak English, and when I had asked if he knew where he was going, he ignored me. Growing extremely frustrated and scared that he did not appear to understand me, and I did not know how I was going to get to my hotel, I began to yell at him in German. The irony, that yelling at him in German was obviously not particularly helpful, but the ease with which I did it. I remember thinking, “If only I could speak German this naturally when I am in Germany.” To make a long story short, after the cab driver stopped two different cab drivers, and the police, he finally safely got me to my hotel. It was not the ideal way to start the weekend, but it ended up okay.
Even though Will Bakker, EMEA chair, had created a Facebook page with different pieces of information for attendees, I somehow managed to miss the post about a DA sightseeing tour scheduled for Friday. Luckily, I had booked a walking tour on my own (with Emily Frömel, the VP of the DAG Munich Chapter). We saw the “changing of the guard” in front of the parliament in Athens, and we saw some major landmarks of Athens including some neighborhoods, statues, and we ended at the Acropolis. The view of the city was amazing and the sites were truly unbelievable. Following the tour, Emily and I had lunch in an amazing Greek restaurant. After lunch, we wandered through some neighborhoods, and witnessed firsthand the level of poverty in the city — the sheer number of homeless people sleeping on the streets and people begging was quite astonishing, and heartbreaking.
Although the conference officially began on Saturday morning, Friday night there was a reception in a private venue overlooking the city. It was a magnificent event. However, as ironic as it is for a community organizer to be introverted, I am. I can get up in front of a large group of people and help them demand justice (better wages, safer living conditions, etc.), but I honestly would rather have a root canal than mingle in a social setting with people whom I do not know. To add to my anxiety, I still was not feeling well and I could not say more than two or three words without going into a coughing fit. As uncomfortable as I was, I knew one of the main reasons I went to Athens was to force myself to broaden my horizons and meet new people.
Luckily, the DA Greece Chapter brought people in to teach traditional Greek dancing, and Emily participated in that, so I was forced to meet new people. I met and had conversations with the Chair of DA France, Austria, the UK, and Italy. We talked about the craziness of what was going on in the United States, our careers (Jennifer, from Austria, an architect) and the challenges I faced trying to find a publisher for my book. We exchanged stories on the expat life and the difficulties of trying to learn German. Despite my discomfort and initial hesitation of attending, by the end of the night I had met half a dozen people and felt much more comfortable than I thought I would.
Instead of spreading my wings like I had hoped to do, I stuck pretty close to Emily and we found seats together at the front of the room on Saturday when the conference officially began. It turned out that Julia Bryant, president of DA, was seated directly behind me. In the traditional icebreaker exercises that I enjoy as much as a root canal, I found myself getting to know her. I was more than a little intimidated since I had never officially met her. I was relieved to discover she was very nice and down to earth. I was even more relieved that I did not have to introduce her in front of a room of 100 strangers. After the introduction exercise, Julia Bryan gave a motivating presentation about how important our votes from abroad were — including setting goals for increasing membership for the 2020 election. As Germany’s GOTV coordinator; this was one of the most valuable sessions for me. The presenters discussed things such as when to hold the presidential primary, why this was important, how to register new voters, who could vote etc. — info that was extremely relevant for me in my new role.
Since I had not reserved my lunch ahead of time, I luckily found a group of other people (some I knew, some I did not) that found themselves in the same situation, so we all went to a restaurant together. It was nice getting to know new people from the UK, the Netherlands, and even Germany. Following lunch, we had breakout sessions (an activity I am very accustomed to in all my organizing activities). Since women’s issues are extremely important to me, I decided to attend the woman’s caucus breakout. In this session women’s caucus leaders talked about issues that were important to them — passing the ERA, International Women’s Day in March 2020, and a new committee formed to fight the ongoing attack of women’s reproductive rights in the United States. Following the breakout session, they adjourned for cocktail hour/dinner. Between being so introverted and being physically exhausted from being around 100 people all day long and the bronchitis, I opted to return to my hotel room where I could reflect on the day’s activities, regroup for the next day, and get some much needed sleep.
On Sunday, the final day, we spent the morning talking/planning for GOTV — most notably and importantly the person in charge of study from abroad spoke and offered suggestions/guidelines on how we can engage the college students and encourage them to vote. In the last breakout session, I attended a Call Hub Party 101 where the chair of DA Austria talked about the success they had had with call parties. She emphasized the purpose of the parties was not to call a lot of people but rather train people — help them to iron out their problems, and give them the confidence they need so they feel confident enough to make calls on their own at their convenience. As GOTV coordinator, it is my responsibility to ensure that we reach as many Americans living abroad as we can to encourage them to vote. Since there are many categories of people living abroad (students, expats on temporary work assignments, or Americans with foreign spouses) it is important to explore every possible way to reach these people to remind them of both their right and obligation to vote. I found these discussions to be pragmatic and useful with good takeaways that I can take back to Germany with me.
Despite the challenges and my reservations (fear of being in a new location, meeting new people, and being sick) the weekend was a valuable experience. I made some new friends, I broadened my horizons by visiting a new city and trying some new food, and most importantly I came home with some concrete ideas of how I can personally help the American Democratic community in Germany. This was my first experience at a regional meeting, and given the positive experiences I had, I am certain it will not be my last. I only hope that I can build upon the positive experiences and help the next generation of DA activists.
Claudia Clark is the GOTV Coordinator for DA Germany. She and her husband live in a small city outside of Munich. She is a writer and she is currently seeking publication for her first book; My Partner, My Friend: The Relationship Between U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. When she is not writing, participating in DA activities, or in her German class, she volunteers at a local refugee center tutoring children in English.
On October 2, 2019, Democrats Abroad France host an event on US Mexico relations in the age of Trump. Laura Carlsen discusses how the relations between US and Mexico have changed under the current administrations.