My watershed moment was the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022. When the conversation about Roe v. Wade being overturned began in May 2022, I paid no attention because I “knew” there was absolutely no way that would happen. How could that possibly happen? Don’t we live in a country that’s advancing vs. retracting rights? Aren’t things better than they were in the 1900s?
Growing up, my mother and grandmother gave me confidence and made me feel that I could do anything. I was a fearless tomboy. Below is a photo of me at a t-ball game. I was the only girl on the team, and I was the best one! I was never led to believe and never felt that being a girl hindered me in any way.
After Roe v. Wade was overturned, I began asking questions. My eyes were irrevocably opened to the differences between men and women in this country, and I was not pleased with what I was learning! When I was told growing up that “All men are created equal” includes women as well, I believed it. This is not the case, which is why the Equal Rights Amendment is such a crucial piece of legislation.
Whenever I would meet a lawyer or someone who majored in public policy, I had questions to ask them about their job, how the law & government worked, if they felt in their position they could affect the change they wanted to see, etc.
I recently watched a webinar put on by She Should Run, that I am excited to share with you! Here are my takeaways from the webinar along with actionable steps for how to find your voice and create the change you wish to see:
- If you don’t know the names of your elected officials both at the local and federal level, you can find this out here. Your elected officials represent you, and you can and should contact them to let them know the issues you care about. They will prioritize the issues that get the most attention
- Joining your school board is very important right now to ensure your voice is heard about the curriculum being taught
- VOTING! Voting is imperative even at the local level. These people represent you and your community and can have a lot of impact. Research the candidates in advance to figure out who to vote for based on the issues you care about
- Attend City Council and Board of Education meetings as well as town halls
- Join a community board
- Research, ask questions and as best you can, educate yourself on issues you care about. You do not need to be a lawyer, have an advanced degree, work in politics, etc. to advocate for change
- Talk to your family, friends, colleagues and community about your concerns. These crucial conversations can lead to change. We need to work together, and must converse about key issues
- Did you know you can look up bills? You can search bills and advocate for bills you want to pass. Again, the bills that will pass are the ones that receive the most attention. There are thousands of bills, and the legislators have to prioritize. Letting them know which bills you care about & want to pass can help them prioritize. If you want a bill to pass, talk about the bill. Make sure your community, friends and family know about it. This can happen in person, via phone, on social media, etc. Get creative and think of various groups who can advocate for the bill as well. You want as many people as possible advocating for the bill. For New York, here’s a link to look up bills in the Assembly and Senate.
Remember that your voice matters. Even the smallest of actions like having a conversation, signing up for a newsletter, researching, spending time thinking about your take on various issues is important. You *do not* have to be an expert before becoming civically engaged or advocating for issues you care about. You are an expert in your experiences and story.
Personally, I will continue asking questions, researching, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching movies and tv shows to educate myself. I am trying to understand how our society, culture, government and the law works in order to pinpoint how we can make change and what needs to change. I joined The New York Junior League and chose Advocates for Public Policy as my committee. The Advocates for Public Policy committee advocates for laws regarding women, children, families and underserved communities in New York. I have learned SO much since joining in January 2023. I have even met with legislators at both the state and city level.
In the past, when I was upset about an issue, I did not feel I had any way to make a change. I am not a lawyer and don’t work in the government, so what could I do? I did not have the information, access or tools to do so. Joining the Advocates for Public Policy committee changed that, and I am excited to share what I learn with you about how to become civically engaged, find your voice and use it.
It it time to reimagine our future, and I am confident that if we work together, we can make meaningful change. Please let me know if you have any questions!