2021 Summer of HER
Written by Isabel Rewick, Stanback Activist Engagement Fellow | Published: September 13, 2021
Our volunteers and activists have been working hard to #Fight4HER all summer. The fight to ensure reproductive health and rights for everyone, everywhere, is as crucial as ever, especially now that we have a supportive White House and majority in Congress. The Biden-Harris administration marks a distinct shift in the political landscape for reproductive health and rights. With Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, our hopes are high that Congress will pass the Global HER Act and permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule this year.
The Fourth Annual Summer of HER
This year’s Summer of HER fellows—25 amazing activists from across the country—demanded during this year’s Summer of HER program that Congress pass the Global HER Act. They also developed their skills as activists and galvanized grassroots networks of volunteers. While the Summer of HER was facilitated virtually due to the pandemic, the fellows showed up engaged and eager to use this opportunity to end the Global Gag Rule.
Throughout the eight-week program, the fellows attended weekly sessions, workshops, and trainings with leaders from the reproductive health and rights community. During the coalition-wide Week of Action to End the Global Gag Rule (June 21-25), fellows circulated petitions; called, emailed, and tweeted at their members of Congress; and attended our June National Volunteer Call. The call featured Dickson Okong’o, the founder and Executive Director of Stretchers Youth Organization in Mombasa, Kenya, and Caitlin Horrigan, the Director of Global Advocacy at Planned Parenthood. Our audience learned about the extremely harmful impacts of the Global Gag Rule on the ground as well as the political pathway to passing the Global HER Act.
In July, the fellows practiced intentional recruitment and relational organizing by hosting their own “kitchen table conversations.” These conversations took place across the country as fellows mobilized their networks and encouraged friends, family, and community members to join the #Fight4HER.
The [Virtual] HER Summit
We wrapped up this year’s Summer of HER program with our fourth annual [digital] HER Summit on July 29. The Summit included speakers Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka, the founder and CEO of Conservation Through Public Health, and Dr. Michelle Dubón, the Medical Director of WINGS Guatemala. Both speakers led excellent sessions that engaged our 77 viewers and concluded with audience questions. Dr. Kalema-Zikusoka spoke about the importance of the population, health, and environment approach to solving complex issues related to population pressures, reproductive health and rights, and environmental protection. Our audience also had the opportunity to learn about Dr. Dubón’s work in Guatemala to increase access to reproductive health care for rural and Indigenous women through improved medical access and youth leadership campaigns.
The Summit concluded with a special video from Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA-7). The congressman, also a physician, is a longtime champion of reproductive health and rights and has been a vocal advocate of the Global HER Act. Our activists and fellows enjoyed hearing his words of support as he encouraged our audience to continue to #Fight4HER.
While the HER Summit marked the end of our Summer of HER program this year, our volunteers, activists, and fellows will continue in their efforts this fall to put a permanent end to the Global Gag Rule.