Taking Action, Creating Change: Join JWI for Young Women’s Advocacy Day
by Megan Dorward
The third annual Young Women’s Advocacy Day is coming up! Are you excited? Why?
I am so excited, I look forward to Advocacy Day every year! It is truly one of the most rewarding experiences I get to participate in all year. It is incredibly empowering to spend a day meeting with lawmakers and their staffs and talking about the issues we care about and the change we want to see for the nation. It is a really gratifying experience to feel like you have done something to be part of a solution.
Why do you think this day is important for young women?
It is incredibly important for us as young women to raise our voices and make sure that the people who represent us in Congress hear us and understand what we care about. These are the people who make the laws that impact our lives - from our ability to access healthcare, to our safety, and to how we are treated and compensated in the workforce - and so it is our civic duty to stand up and be heard. The ability to raise our voices collectively, as we do on Advocacy Day, sends the message that we as young women are engaged in the issues and will not be ignored.
What has been your favorite part of this experience?
My favorite part of participating in Advocacy Day has been meeting with the lawmakers' staffs and briefing them on why these issues are so critically important. It is our jobs as citizens to hold our elected officials accountable, and that means, in addition to voting, getting involved in the process and speaking up for the issues we care about. We have the power to impact how laws in this country get made, and those laws can bring about the change we want to see in our society.
What issue are you most excited to talk about this year?
It's hard to pick just one issue that I am most excited to talk about, but I think this year, given the status of the Violence Against Women Act, I am most fired up about talking about its reauthorization. Historically, VAWA has received bipartisan support, but now it's up to us to put pressure on our elected officials to reauthorize it and protect women in this country.
How many years have you been coming to Advocacy Day? Why are you coming back?
This will be my third year attending Advocacy Day! I keep coming back because the issues we advocate for are as pressing now as they ever have been. I also feel a great sense of responsibility to get involved and advocate on behalf of the women who might not be able to travel to DC. Because I live in the district, I am able to take advantage of the opportunity given to me, but I recognize that not every women can do so, and so I feel a responsibility to speak up for them.
Any tips for first time attendees?
Wear comfortable shoes! You can cover a lot of ground (literally!) in a day. Also, don't feel that you have to be an expert on the issues or on the legislative process. You will be well-briefed ahead of the meetings, you can talk about which issue you care most about, and it is the job of the aides you will meet with to take meetings with constituents.
What would you tell someone who is on the fence about attending?
I would say to someone on the fence about attending that things do not change until people get involved. For too long, the laws in this country have been made in large part by men, and there are gaping inequalities in these laws that put women at a distinct disadvantage. There are now more women in Congress than ever before, and it's our responsibility to seize this moment and start to balance out the inequalities.
Anything else you think people should know?
Though the subject matter is serious, this is actually a really fun day! You will learn a lot, and you'll likely start counting down until the next Advocacy Day!
Megan Dorward lives on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. She works for Twitter as a Senior Client Partner. In this role she advises political and advocacy marketers on their advertising strategies on Twitter. Megan graduated from The College of William and Mary and is an active alumnae, having served on the Board for Annual Giving and now serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. She hopes to one day own a corgi puppy.