Activism

CONSCIOUS WOMAN ACTIVIST RESOURCES
(an ongoing project…)

{pullquote}See how your own personal wounds, if you have any, make you all the more effective as an advocate, for you already have the wisdom to transform yourself from victim to survivor to healer. ~ Jeannine Parvati Baker{endpullquote}As we approach the New Year, these pages will be continually updated with resources and guides for the aspiring and seasoned activist. In the meantime, add this page to your list of resources and visit us again while we continue to develop new and innovative strategies.

RESOURCES:
Join the Conscious Woman Advocacy Forum. This forum is intended to connect you with existing advocacy efforts in the birthing community and identify new plans of action. More to come soon for other groups.

The following is a list of existing organizations that are coordinating grassroots activism in the area of women’s and children’s health. Email us at info@consciouswoman.org if you have an effort or link that you would like added to this list.

ACTIVIST NETWORKING AND RESOURCES

Links: Women’s and Children’s Health and Rights Issues

Advocates for Women, General

Mom’s Rising

National Advocates for Pregnant Women

National Organization for Women (NOW) - see their action items and resources to find your local representatives

What Women Want (Australia)

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Action Group (check out their Think Before You Pink campaign)

Breastfeeding

La Leche League

Check out the lactavism tribe at mothering.com

Cesareans and Overturning VBAC Bans

Join ICAN’s advocacy group

Participate in the ICAN survey to get an updated tally on how many hospitals have bans in place

Read Protecting and Enforcing the Rights of Women Seeking Vaginal Birth after Cesarean: A Primer

Review the National Organization for Women’s Resolution on VBAC Bans

Childbirth

Coalition for Improving Maternity Services

Maternity Coalition (Australia) – Australia’s National Maternity Consumer Organization

Joyous Birth (Australia) – see their Advocacy News Section

Hysterectomy Awareness

HERS Foundation

Vaccination

Check out our growing resource page on vaccinations.

Conscious Suggestions for Novice and Experienced Activists

1) Read books and other resources on activism and strategic planning

Start with Doing Democracy by Bill Moyer, JoAnn McAllister, Mary Lou Finley and Steve Soifer

2) Form a strategic plan

Identify your strengths, your weaknesses, your allies and your threats (SWAT). Rate these on a scale of 1 to 10.

Never attack your allies – always build your relationships with them and do what you can to strengthen those relationships.

Plan positions and actions that will increase your strengths and ameliorate your weakness. This will help to identify the weaknesses of your opponents.

3) Always remember, there is more to a debate than promoting your cause

Choose your opponents and your forums carefully. For example, a few years ago on a national news program, a prominent birth activist debated an obstetrician. The obstetrician had no specific credentials other than his own practice and the hospital where he worked. He was in studio, sitting next to the reporter. The birth activist was being broadcast via satellite transmission. This forum played against the birth activist, despite her excellent arguments.

4) Refrain from criticizing your supporters to gain legitimacy

Separating yourself from something you don’t like in an attempt to gain legitimacy is a natural phenomenon. However, think twice before criticizing those who also support your position. The media often misinterprets this and you will appear to be aligned with and supportive of the “opposition”. If you are encouraged during an interview to comment on the activities of an “ally” that you disagree with, distance yourself from the question and avoid the issue.

For example, if you are a midwife or other natural childbirth advocate who is personally critical of unassisted birth, be cautious about making statements to that effect in a media interview or other public forum. You may find that the reporter (and the public) will align you and your comments with those who believe that birth is dangerous and requires constant, medical supervision. If your opinion is solicited, a good response would be: “I am supportive of midwife-assisted childbirth. You may wish to speak to Laura Shanley about unassisted childbirth.”

5) Be mindful of general perceptions

No one has enough bandwidth to take on all issues with dedication and passion. Be mindful that everyone comes to the table with their own perceptions and experiences. Seek common ground.

6) Focus on what is needed most

What is most needed in the area of childbirth reform is national coordination, particularly a coordinated national media response.

7) Be open-minded

Be more self-critical about what hasn’t worked and why.

Keep trying new things.

8) The Three Rules of Gandhi

Always remember the humanity of your adversary.

Never tear down something for which you don’t have an alternative.

All change comes from the people.

Guidelines for New Activists

1) Personalize It

Different political offices have different formulas, but as a general rule personal visits, telephone calls and handwritten letters from a voter in their constituency will receive the highest level of attention in any office.

Organize a letter-writing party with others in your district – have stamps and envelopes ready.

Only send letters if there is a specific piece of legislation up for consideration or a regulation that concerns you.

If you are encouraging people to sign a form letter, make sure that you have A LOT of them. A few hundred will be thrown in the trash or deleted, but a few hundred thousand may make an impact.

2) Get To Know Your Representative

Visit your local representative in their local office. Bring four or five of your friends with you.

Be sure to explain that you are a constituent, why your issue is important, and why they should support your position.

Make sure you understand the issue well, and make yourself a reliable source of information for them – even if they don’t agree with your position.

Ask to be part of your representative’s constituent meetings, briefings and/or presentations.

Get to know your representative. Be his/her friend.

3) Be Mindful of The Season

January through March is the most effective time for action.

Most states are out of session until January. When out of session, meet with your legislators in their home districts.

During the last three months of the year, feel free to work with your representative’s staff (they have staff in both their home district and their capital office). This is also a good time to call your representative on the telephone; they’ll be less harried by their legislative schedules.

4) Watch for New Candidates

Offer to volunteer on a candidate’s campaign if they support your position on pending legislation.

Look for candidates whose stand you agree with on other issues. Try to get them to support you on your (new) position. If they don’t have a stand yet, this is a great opportunity for you!

5) Other Things To Do

Join legislative efforts in states that are working on passing laws pertaining to your issue.

Send an information packet to the top 3 nominees in each party who are seeking any office, asking them to engage in discussion on your topic.

Go to local Presidential campaigns (note: heavy campaigning in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina).

Post on U-Tube, My Space, and other online networks.

Search the web for contacts and links to online dialogues. Participate!

Participate in a Conscious Woman workshop! Check out our Conscious Activism workshops with James S. Turner, Esq. one of the original Nader’s Raiders.