CARE's Learning Tours program, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a strategic entry point for education and engagement of policymakers and those who can influence policy. The Learning Tours program provides these decision makers with life-changing experiences that go beyond statistics and give them the opportunity to travel with colleagues to develop a shared understanding of the benefits of foreign assistance. CARE's Learning Tours program has earned a reputation for high-quality, effective trips that have contributed to measurable results including policy change, increased funding and broader awareness of the issues facing the world's poor. By building champions within Congress, the Learning Tours are having a positive impact in terms of moving the dial on foreign assistance. Below, you can find examples from our past trips that showcase this impact and the strong leaders CARE has hosted on our trips.
Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Betty McCollum (D-MN)
After returning from the Learning Tour to Ethiopia in September 2010, Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL) has been a champion on the issue of child marriage alongside Representative Betty McCollum (D-MN) who just participated in our Learning Tour to South Sudan and Tanzania in February 2013. In December following the trip, Representative Schock made a moving speech on the House floor about his experience on the trip where he saw firsthand how child marriage devastates young girls physically and emotionally, and destroys any future economic opportunity for them. Most recently, in July 2012, Representatives Schock and McCollum introduced H.R. 6087, International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, to promote and protect the rights of girls in the developing world. Following the introduction, they followed up with a Dear Colleague in August and letter to Secretary Clinton in September before the 112th Congress concluded. Please check out this Op-Ed on child marriage that was written by Janet Glavin, a CARE and ONE supporter in Representative Schock's district of Peoria, IL.
On February 28, 2013, following the passage of the bipartisan reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act of 2013, Representatives Schock and McCollum issued a press release applauding this monumental legislation particularly as it includes language requiring the U.S. to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent child marriage in developing countries. In the press release, Rep. Schock says, "Child marriage is a tragedy happening on an epic scale around the world. This is a moral, economic and humanitarian crisis that doesn't receive nearly enough attention in our country. However, all that begins to change today with the passage of our legislation. On my trip with CARE to Ethiopia, I saw first-hand how child marriage devastates young girls physically and emotionally, while destroying their future. I'm grateful we can finally tell the world that help is on the way." The press release also talks specifically about the Learning Tour and links to Rep. Schock's December 2010 floor speech on child marriage. This press release is a huge testament to the power of the Learning Tours program and why Member travel so important to understanding these issues and building champions within Congress to be true advocates for this work.
Additionally, in advance of CARE's 2013 International Women's Day Conference & Celebration on March 5-7, CARE confirmed that Representatives Schock and McCollum and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) planned to send letters to Secretary of State John Kerry highlighting Congressional support for efforts to combat Gender-Based Violence and supporting the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally. These letters were part of our ask at this year's Conference during our Hill meetings, in addition to protecting the foreign assistance budget.
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA)
On January 4, 2013 at the start of the 113th Congress, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced a resolution in support of foreign assistance programs. She said, "Expressing the sense of Congress that the United States should provide, on an annual basis, an amount equal to at least one percent of United States gross domestic product (GDP) for nonmilitary foreign assistance programs, this bill recognizes the importance of foreign assistance programs in promoting national security, demonstrating the American people's humanitarian spirit, and improving U.S. credibility in world affairs. Representative Lee participated in our Uganda trip in April 2012 and has served as a true champion for global health and foreign assistance.
Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
In January 2013, Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) joined the CARE Action Network's (CAN) Leadership Council, a small strategic council of former Members of Congress and members of Presidential Administrations who are committed to CARE's mission of combating global poverty. As a champion of global health and development issues, Representative Woolsey's continued leadership on these issues and her excitement to continue working alongside CARE will be an incredible opportunity for the organization and the people we serve. She spoke at CARE's 2013 International Women's Day Conference & Celebration