I am honored to serve another two-year term as AAUW Florida Director for Public Policy. I hope this blog will help us share information and inspiration.
Here are some suggestions and pleas for the new year:
- Do not become paralyzed by the number of things that are going wrong. As an individual, you could pick one way to advocate every day, or every week, and that would make a real contribution. You can call a legislator or write a letter to the editor any day. Check the newspaper’s guidelines for letter or op-ed submission. Use AAUW’s Two-Minute Activist regularly. As a branch, please do plan at least one event a year when you will publicly (not just in the branch meeting!) advocate for AAUW’s public policy priorities. See suggestions below.
- Concentrate on educating your community. If we are the “educated women”, let’s use that and try to create occasions for the dissemination of facts and real-life observations and for civil dialogue. Anyone can attend a rally and wave a placard, and we can certainly do that, but would it not be our particular mission to educate and try to change hearts and minds with information? A great man I used to know who advocated before legislators said that they want “facts and a few good stories”. We love facts. For example, The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap is full of them. We need some compelling stories, because they are powerful in influencing opinion. Just make sure they are true stories!
- Work with “diverse allies and coalitions” as AAUW recommends, but check them out first. Find out if their goals and mode of operation are consistent with your values and our public policy. See http://www.aauw.org/resource/workshop-how-to-build-coalitions/.
Here are some types of advocacy events you can consider. You can learn about most of them and more on the AAUW website.
- Events featuring education
- Issue forum, perhaps with coalitions or allies. http://www.aauw.org/resource/organize-an-issue-forum/
- Letters to editor or op-eds. http://www.aauw.org/resource/lte-vs-op-ed/
- Tabling event at which you distribute AAUW literature and talk with people. http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-tabling/
- Open meeting to discuss advocacy: like issue forum but might have a broader focus
- Events to influence legislators
- In-district meeting with elected officials http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-hold-a-meeting-with-your-elected-officials/
- Call-in day: get together and call legislators
- Lobby Days: Let’s go to Tallahassee!