CARE's 12th National Conference and International Women's Day Celebration

CARE's 12th National Conference and International Women's Day Celebration

Posted
3/17/14

CARE's 12th Conference and International Women's Day Celebration was an inspiring success. The 297 attendees from 39 states met in Washington, D.C. on March 5 and 6 to learn about vital international development issues before heading to Capitol Hill to call on lawmakers to deliver lasting change to girls, women and communities around the world.  

The conference kicked off March 5 with a powerful call to action by Anne-Marie Slaughter. The acclaimed writer and New America Foundation president and CEO urged businesses and lawmakers to adopt policies that acknowledge caregiving and bread-winning as equally important endeavors. Being a family caregiver is every bit as important for men as for women, she says, and taking time away from a career to care for children or elderly parents should not be considered a “hole” in someone’s resume, but important work experience.

During his keynote World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim emphasized that lifting the world's poorest out of poverty is, in essence, synonymous with securing the rights of girls and women. "Most policymakers agree that no country can lift itself out of poverty or achieve its potential when half its citizens are denied equal rights and opportunities.

To prepare for the Congressional lobbying effort the next day, conference attendees met for several hours in expert-led workshops discussing three important issues: modern food-aid reform, unfettered humanitarian access to Syria and the International Violence Against Women Act to elevate the importance of preventing gender-based violence and women’s empowerment in U.S. foreign policy.

Day one of the conference ended with an extraordinary dinner where CARE honored two inspiring people. Henry Bromelkamp, a longtime CARE supporter and CARE Action Network chair  from Minnesota received CARE’s first-ever Deliver Lasting Change award for his tireless and effective advocacy which has helped shape the public debate on food aid reform in his home state of Minnesota. Marah Zahalka won CARE’s I Am Powerful award. A 22-year-old race car driver, she has defied gender stereotypes and political challenges in Palestine to become part of the Middle East’s first all-female racing team. The keynote address at the dinner was delivered by former Sen. Richard Lugar and emphasized how a robust foreign aid system fosters peace and stability.

On the second day of the conference, attendees hit the Hill to lobby their legislators to support vital policy reforms related to food aid, helping victims of conflict in Syria and stopping violence against women. The CARE groups, hailing from 117 Congressional districts, had 183 Congressional meetings in just one day, including meetings with 44 members of Congress.

Through the years there’s been a common refrain among people who’ve been to CARE’s Conference to lobby their legislators. Over and over you’ll hear attendees say that meeting with fellow CARE Action Network members, and lobbying elected leaders and staff members, is itself empowering because it gives attendees an understanding of how groups of committed people can and do shape U.S. policy. Gloria Samen, a 17-year-old advocate from Maryland and a first-time conference attendee, said lobbying legislators on foreign aid was eye-opening to her because it made explicit the connection between the rights of women in the U.S. and overseas.

“This is a great gateway into what I hope to do with my life,” Samen she said of meeting with CARE supporters and lobbying Congress. “I‘d love to continue to work with CARE and learn more about the awesome work you’re doing.”

In the years ahead we look forward to seeing Gloria, Henry, Marah and all the CARE supporters around the country who are working hard to deliver lasting change.

Presentations from the 2014 National CARE Conference available for download:

 

Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President, World Bank Group, speaks at the luncheon plenary. Speakers, staff and attendees gathered at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. on March 5th for the 2014 CARE National Conference & International Women's Day Celebration.

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