The following is a guest blog post by Zonta International Advocacy Committee member Bobbee Cardillo:
On 2 June 2017, Zontians from all districts with US clubs came to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for the first time to advocate for women’s rights with their senators and representatives.
After a briefing at the Cannon House Office Building on tips for talking with elected officials and reasons to pass the Equal Rights Amendment ratification bills and the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, 145 US Zontians fanned out across the Capitol in state delegations to meet with staff in more than 60 Senate offices. Some also met with their own representatives.
All delegations left behind packets detailing the legislation we championed along with information about Zonta International and membership numbers in each state. We promised we would continue to be in touch as advocates for other important women’s rights legislation.
After all that hard work, a number of Zontians took time to visit the newly-designated Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument on Capitol Hill, home to the original suffragists who advocated in the early 1900s for women’s right to vote in the US. Park employees speculated that it is likely that some of these women were known to and supported by founders of the first Zonta club in Buffalo, NY.
“Everyone agreed that Advocacy Day took the mystery, and "fear" about speaking with legislators out of the picture,” said Mary Ann Rubis, ZI Membership Committee Co-Chair for North America.
District 3 Governor Donna Clark, who participated in the Maryland delegation, commented, “I never would have believed myself sitting in a Senator’s office advocating for anything! ….(yet) I was confident as I sat there.”
Several other Zontians commented that “It was an awesome event!”
Many Zontians left the Hill that day expecting to be back, both in Washington, D.C. and at their own state capitols, advocating with their elected officials. Clearly the first US Zonta Advocacy Day will not be the last!