Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My First FM-Effort Toward Change

Hello to all FMF Blog readers, my name is Ilona Globa. This is my first week as a spring FMF intern. I’m completing my undergraduate degree in journalism (with a research interest in feminism) at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania this May.

I’d like to share with you a relatively unique experience I had with FMF. I attended the Stop Stupak Coalition Meeting and Lobby Day on January 20. There were 2 other FMF interns in attendance, and a group of FMF staff members led the way into my first experience in the world of lobbying.

The day began with a collective meeting of a variety of women’s rights groups, including Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women and many others. There were several keynote speakers who reminded us of our goals that day.

Then everyone was released. Some went to appointments they had scheduled with state representatives, while others simply dropped by their offices in hopes of catching the politicians or their aids. I found out legislative assistants do quite a bit of work in the political process. Sure, the representatives themselves are who we see in televised meetings on C-SPAN, many of them middle-aged, white men. But their legislative assistants are the ones who do much of the “dirty work” and handle a great deal of the politics behind large, wooden, closed doors. And these people are generally in their mid to late 20s, many of them women.

I was with Government Relations Director Norma Gattsek and National Campus Organizer Danielle Geong. FMF has campus ties with schools in many districts, so we came to represent the students who could not attend to voice their ideas.

Sadly, two of the three reps we hoped to speak to (and by that, I mean the aid to the rep) were simply unavailable when we stopped by. Not to mention, lobbyists are not on many people’s list of favorites.

Finally, Danielle and I caught a few (and I do mean few) minutes of Dan Farmer’s time. He is the assistant to Ohio Representative Zack Space. We hoped to change Space’s opinion about the Stupak Amendment, which he had voted in favor of. Sadly, his aid seemed more anxious to get on with his day than to discuss any of his boss’s ideas, and we left the meeting feeling unfulfilled.

However, I will not let this phase me. I never thought I would be given the opportunity to lobby, nor do I plan to do it for a living. But I look forward to trying it again, with my mentors here at FMF. And I’m determined to accomplish more and come better prepared next time. And if you feel hesitant about trying it, my advice is not to over-think it. The idea is to demonstrate that you are informed and passionate, in a diplomatic manner. Another goal is to listen. Keep these ideas in mind and remember that every effort counts. So I encourage everyone to try it.

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