WOV celebrates International Women's Day by advancing the TVPRA
When Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has” we cannot be sure that she was speaking about women, but after this past week, we would not doubt that she was.
Today, March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day, a celebration of Women’s economic, political and social achievements. Women of Vision celebrates women everyday through our programs, prayers and actions. This year we have particular reason to lift up women. This week we saw first hand that a small group of women has the power to make big change.
Women from the United States and around the globe gathered in Washington DC for the Women of Vision National Conference. The conference culminated in a day on Capitol Hill with over 100 meetings scheduled and women speaking out for trafficking victims around the world on March 6th.
Since the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA), the largest piece of anti-trafficking legislation in history, expired on October 1, 2011 and Women of Vision went to Congress to tell them, it was not okay. Not speaking out means that it is okay for the United States to not act in the fight against human trafficking.
The Lobby Day was full of small victories. Congress people and their legislative aides were educated, people who asked why so many Women of Vision were on the Hill were made aware, and Senators were encouraged to start a new wave of co-sponsorship on the TVPRA. Then, at 4:15 came the largest victory of all. Women of Vision from Washington State met with Senator Maria Cantwell.
The meeting exemplified why it is important to meet with our members of Congress. Senators are people too and oftentimes it is taken for granted that important bills, like those affecting human trafficking, will be passed and not become caught up in partisan politics. However, with the TVPRA, this is not the case. The Women of Vision from Washington State updated Senator Cantwell on the status of the bill, applauded when she said she would co-sponsor and answered her questions because she had decided to be a champion for the TVPRA! Senator Cantwell committed to bringing this bill to the floor and calling on other women in Congress to help pass this legislation. She said she would do everything in her power to have this bill passed through the Senate; she was on our side and working for us!
Later in the day, Women of Vision New Jersey received a call that Senator Menendez had signed on as a co-sponsor and and today, on International Women’s Day, Senator Murray of Washington State made a phone call – she also decided to sponsor the TVPRA.
In about an hour and a half, a group of less than 20 changed the world for women, girls and those held in slavery around the world. By having two meetings, Washington State went from having no Senate support for the TVPRA to having 100 percent Senate Support. New Jersey now has 100 percent support for the bill as well. We are adding these states to a list of others and expect this list to grow because we know that when a group of women sets out to accomplish something, change will happen.
Happy International Women’s Day!