Written by Girl Up Teen Advisor Lavanya
The current refugee crisis is the most severe it has ever been since the Holocaust. Many of the 65 million people displaced from their homes globally are young girls who should be in school, but face barriers. Only 36% of refugees attend secondary school, even though each year of education increases a girl’s future earnings by 10-20%. That’s why S. 1580, the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, is so important.
On October 3, 2017 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2408 with unanimous consent. We’re now asking supporters to contact their Senators to ensure S. 1580 passes the U.S. Senate.
So, how you can help?
There are lots of ways to get involved in advocacy, and for S. 1580 the most effective way is contacting your Senator to express your support for the bill. This might sound daunting (trust me, I’ve been there), but scheduling an in-district meeting or call can be really easy if you follow a few simple steps!
- Reach out: Getting started seems like the hardest part, but it’s actually really simple! You can get in touch with your elected officials by visiting their website, and looking for a “Contact” or “Visit” section. The website will either have a form you can fill out to schedule a meeting or an email you can contact. They may take a few days to get back to you since they get a lot of meeting requests. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to follow-up–especially if it’s been a week and you still haven’t heard back.
- Prepare: Once you have your meeting scheduled, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the bill and with your ask. I also usually bring a leave-behind folder with some papers describing the bill and Girl Up. Girl Up has some amazing resources, like a bill brief and the advocacy app that can help with this! For talking points and more information, check out the Advocacy tab on the website.
- Rock the meeting: Now you’re ready to go to your meeting! It’s totally normal to be nervous, but you don’t need to worry; representatives always want to hear constituents’ thoughts. Remember, the meeting will be more of a conversational back-and-forth than a presentation: they’ll ask questions and try to engage with you. I recommend dressing in business attire and shaking their hand before the meeting. After the meeting, be sure to thank them for taking the time to meet with you!
In the end, speak from the heart about what you’re passionate about. Your elected officials represent YOU, and they want to know what you care about. With these tips, you’ll be ready to rock any in-district meeting and help educate refugee girls!