Why I Care About Water: FionaWe asked some Women of Vision to share why they care about water and are advocating for the Water for the World Act. Here, Fiona McInally from WOV Austin shares her answer.
WOV: How did you become involved with Women of Vision?
My name is Fiona McInally. I’ve been married for 17 years with and we have 2 children (10 and 11). I have been the Advocacy Chair /Co-Chair since I joined the chapter in the fall of 2011 (Austin chapter started in 2010 and had not had a dedicated Advocacy chair until I joined).
WOV: How did you first become engaged in advocacy?
The Austin chapter needed an Advocacy Chair! But shortly after joining I went to Women of Vision’s Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. and participated in the Lobby Day to support the TVPRA. When listening to Rev. Alexia Salvatierra’s talk I realized that I wanted to learn as much as I could to be a more effective advocate for social justice issues.
WOV: Why do you view water as a crucial issue today?
Water is one of the foundation pieces in lifting whole communities up out of poverty – without it none of the other pieces can work effectively (health, education, micro-financing).
WOV: When did you hear about the Water for the World Act?
In late summer 2013 Women of Vision had a conference call asking chapters to schedule in-district meetings while Congress was in recess to talk to representatives about this legislation.
WOV: What steps have you made to engage in advocacy for this issue? And what encouragements or discouragements have you faced along the way?
Our chapter organized in-district meetings with both of our state senators and as many representative’s staffers as we were able to meet with (Mike McCaul, Roger Williams, Lamar Smith). We urged our members to call, send letters. We distributed Water for the World postcards at all of our events (collected over 100 signatures).
In June we wrote our first Op Ed piece in our local paper – Austin American Statesman. A week after the piece was published (where we called out all the Austin representatives who had not co-sponsored the bill) we were contacted by Lloyd Doggett’s office with the news that he would co-sponsor the bill and wanted to know what other issues Women of Vision cared about (we promptly told him about the Girls Count Act!)
WOV: What encouragement would you give to women who aren’t sure how to begin advocating?
It does not take long to make a phone call. Start with a script. Keep calling – get practice. They log EVERY single phone call, so it all counts. Then do try to meet with staffers. We have yet to meet with a senator or representative directly. For us, it has always been staffers. But it is just as important to create relationships with them. We got to know Senator Cornyn’s Regional Director when we met to talk about the TVPRA, when we went back the next year to talk to her about Water for the World Act (even though there was not yet a Senate version) she was very responsive. And we plan to reach out to her in the next couple of weeks about the Senate version of the Girls Count Act!
Women of Vision is joining World Vision in its goal for the Girls Count Act and the Water for the World Act to pass before the end of the 113th Congress on January 3, 2015. Join us on September 9th to add your voice!