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CARE on Capitol Hill: Volunteer advocates wrap up day of meetings with congressional offices

Over 40 advocates from 15 states amplify the importance of foreign assistance to address poverty, promote economic empowerment, and build resilient communities.

(March 16, 2024) – CARE volunteer advocates from 15 states convened in Washington D.C. earlier this month for “CARE on Capitol Hill” – a two-day advocacy event aimed at providing U.S. citizens a direct opportunity to speak with their legislators on critical issues related to CARE’s humanitarian, development, and crisis response work across the globe.

“CARE on Capitol Hill” provided advocates with an overview of the appropriations process, opportunities to learn about CARE’s work, and training on how to effectively engage their legislators on CARE’s foreign assistance funding requests. Advocates also engage in small-group, state-level planning – followed by a full day of Congressional meetings.

This year, CARE’s advocates were joined by two CARE Global Women Leaders – women who have led change in their own communities: Naana Akyaa Asante, founder and CEO of Isabella HealthCare Services in Ghana,  and Aisha Rahamatali, CARE Senior Manager on Women Economic Justice based in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

CARE’s volunteer advocates met with Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and held staff-level meetings with over 50 congressional offices.

“Foremost among our asks to lawmakers was that supporting women and girls leads to stronger economic growth, better governance, and greater food security – and that U.S. leadership must step up and provide foreign assistance to meet the needs of women and girls around the world,” said Ritu Sharma, CARE Vice President of U.S. Programs and Policy Advocacy.

Sharma underscored the importance of the impact that CARE’s advocates can have on lawmakers by adding their voices to these debates, and added that CARE advocates were specifically asking Members of Congress to support at least $61.7 billion in funding for the International Affairs Budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2025, and at least $400 million for women’s economic empowerment through the Gender Equity and Equality (GEEA) Fund for FY2025.

“Congress has not finalized its FY24 budget and has not passed the National Security Supplemental, which includes more than $9 billion of urgently needed emergency humanitarian assistance,” Sharma said. “This is not the time for a business-as-usual budget. Foreign assistance saves lives and represents the best of the American spirit. People in crisis cannot wait.”

CARE Celebrates Advocates at Annual International Women’s Day Dinner

Wednesday evening, 115 guests, including CARE advocates, attended CARE’s annual International Women’s Day Dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian – featuring the She Leads the World Photo Exhibition by renowned photographer Nigel Barker, portraits of seven women leaders who work with CARE in Sierra Leone,  and performances by Grammy-winning singer Lisa Fischer.

In addition to members of the Atlanta Women’s Network, CARE Action Board, corporate sponsors, presenting sponsor P&G’s Nicole Collier, guests also included Senator Amy Klobuchar, CARE Learning Tour alum and House Foreign Affairs Committee member Representative Sara Jacobs,  Millennium Challenge Corporation CEO Alice Albright, and former Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. CARE was also honored to be joined by Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield and Ambassador to the United States Kitoko Gata Ngoulou of Chad, who is one of 42 women ambassadors to the United States.

Speaking to attendees, CARE President and CEO Michelle Nunn said, “Women and girls always bear the brunt of huge challenges like those facing the world today. And current funding is not enough to meet today’s historic needs. CARE’s policy priorities are based on what we learn from listening to women around the world. In the face of the world’s complexities — we need more dreams, more imagination, more creativity – and more women leading!”

For her part, Senator Klobuchar underscored the importance of women in leadership: “One of the U.S. secrets to leadership — it’s not hidden — is that we promote women.”

During the event, CARE presented a special Outstanding Advocacy Partner award to Delta Sigma Theta in recognition of the historic sorority’s commitment to leveraging its extensive advocacy network – with 350,000 initiated women and over 1,000 chapters worldwide – to advance women’s economic empowerment, food security and protecting U.S. investments in foreign assistance.

Addressing attendees, Delta Sigma Theta President Elsie Cooke-Holmes reminded them of the impact that advocacy for women by women on women’s issues can have at a global scale.

“When you empower a woman, you empower a village, you empower a country, you empower the world.”

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