Chairs’ Corner: In with the blue

It’s finally 2020 — the year we’ve all been waiting for. With the holidays behind us, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and do everything we can to make sure the new year is a blue year.

The festive period brought all too many reminders of why the 2020 elections are so important. With our president set to stand trial for high crimes and misdemeanors, the GOP-controlled Senate has vowed to block key witnesses and work “in full cooperation” with White House counsel, making a farce of our system of checks and balances.

In the last few days, the escalation of tensions with Iran have put President Trump’s wanton recklessness on full display, prompting fears that a third World War could be at hand. And as cataclysmic bushfires blaze in Australia during a season of record-high temperatures, we are reminded — yet again — of the perils of failing to address the climate crisis.

Women’s rights also came under fresh attack as more than 200 GOP lawmakers signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, the shooting death of an Alabama woman at the hands of her estranged husband underscored the need to enact meaningful gun laws and restore the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was allowed to expire on the Trump administration’s watch — and is likely to stay that way as long as Senate Republicans remain firmly in the pockets of the NRA.

These are just a handful of the reasons that the Women’s Caucus is going all in to do the single most important thing we can do in 2020 — for women, for America and for the world. And that’s getting out the vote: of the 9 million Americans who live abroad. Of the hundreds of thousands of US citizens whose votes are systematically suppressed. And of every eligible voter who believes our country can and must do better.

That’s why we’re kicking off the new year on January 15 with our “Happy Blue Year” event, co-hosted by the DAUK GOTV and Policy Network teams, which is all about getting out the vote. Whether you’re new to DAUK or a seasoned member, we highly encourage you to come to this event to learn the latest on voting from abroad, find out how you can participate in the Democratic primary in March and volunteer to support DAUK’s GOTV efforts in 2020. Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your free ticket today.

We also invite you to join us January 20 at our first Postcards & Pizza social of the year, where we will take action on women’s rights in solidarity with the Global Women’s Caucus and Women’s Marches around the world. Priorities will include calling on Congress to extend the deadline for passing the Equal Rights Amendment, restoring the VAWA and defending reproductive rights. For more information, please check out our Events page.

In February, in honor of Black History Month, we will continue our efforts to promote free and fair elections by turning our focus to voter suppression, an issue that disproportionately affects people of color. Watch this space and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for activities and programming related to this timely and important topic. In the meantime, mark your calendar for a conference call with Stacey Abrams, founder of Fair Fight, who will discuss voter protection with Democrats Abroad on January 14 at 2pm BST. For call-in info, please RSVP here.

In closing, we have a lot of hard work to do this year, but with the energy, enthusiasm and dedication of volunteers like you, we have high hopes that we can make the new year a blue year. We look forward to seeing you at one of our upcoming events, and if you have questions or want to learn how you can put your time and talents to work in the meantime, please feel free to send an email to co-chairs@womenscaucus.co.uk.

With hope, solidarity and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2020,

Meghan & Steph

Co-chairs, DAUK Women’s Caucus

Chairs’ Corner: This is what democracy looks like

What a year it’s been for the Women’s Caucus! 

It started with us channeling Rosie the Riveter at the Women’s March, saying “we can do it” to passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Then, we wrote thousands of postcards together with the Global Womens’ Caucus to help Democrats take both houses of the Virginia state legislature last month. Now, Eileen Filler-Corn — the first woman majority leader of the Virginia House of Delegates — has announced that ratifying the ERA will be a top priority when the new state legislative session opens in the new year. 

In addition, we took action on a variety of other issues, including gun control and Title X, all while learning from our brilliant, fellow WC members on topics ranging from the environment and reproductive rights to disability and workplace equality. 

Learning and acting. Organizing and taking a stand. This is what democracy looks like. And we are so proud of our members for giving it a face.

As we head into the election year, we plan to kick our activist efforts up a notch, starting with our January 15 “Happy Blue Year” event that we’re co-hosting with DAUK’s GOTV and Policy Network & Resolutions Committees. Whether you’re new to DAUK or a long-time member, we highly encourage you to come to this event to learn the latest on voting from abroad, find out how you can participate in the Democratic primary and volunteer to support DAUK’s GOTV efforts in 2020. Space is limited for this highly anticipated event, so be sure to reserve your free ticket today!

In the meantime, we hope to see you at our holiday social this Wednesday, December 11, where we plan to toast a year of learning, activism and making a difference while getting our spirits up for the year to come. For more information, click here.

In closing, thanks to all of you for bringing your time, energy and talents to the WC over the past year. We wish you a happy and restful holiday season and look forward to working together in 2020 to make the new year a “blue” year!

Cheers,

Meghan & Steph

Co-Chairs, DAUK Women’s Caucus

Top 5 tips for being a good disability ally

By Steph Ryde


As allies, non-disabled individuals can use their privilege to amplify disabled people’s voices and activism. Becoming an ally can seem daunting and many people shy away from it as they are afraid of making a mistake. In truth, we all make mistakes as allies – holding yourself and others accountable when mistakes are pointed out to you is a crucial component of being an ally. To help you navigate the waters of ally-ship we have provided some tips to get you started.  

1. Be aware of your privilege.

Because society is designed to meet the needs of non-disabled people, there are many things that require more effort or thought for people with some kinds of disabilities for a wide range of reasons. Getting dressed, making lunch, using public transport, and communicating to others are all activities that for many people are dependent on energy and pain levels, degrees of mobility, or support from other people.  By being aware of your privilege and what you don’t have to do or think about on a daily basis you can start to consider what it would be like for someone without this privilege.

Try this. The next time you’re at an event be aware of how the activities that you engage in could be alienating to people with a range of disabilities and perhaps keeping them from being a part of the community.  Consider the spaces that you meet in and the activities that you do. Is there a way that these can be more inclusive? What about this space is disabling to people with a range of needs?

2. Don’t define people by their disabilities.

When speaking, mention the person first and only refer to the disability if necessary.  For example, instead of saying ‘my friend in a wheelchair, Chris, is coming to the party’ say ‘my friend Chris is coming to the party and she uses a wheelchair’ if that fact is relevant to preparations for the party, e.g. finding out if the venue is accessible.  Small changes in wording and phrasing can make a big difference when it comes to inclusivity.

3. Don’t label people with a disability as ‘inspiring’ just for living with their disability.  

Focus on the person and what they achieve as opposed to labelling them as inspiring for having a disability.  For example, my family friend Brian built a physiotherapy business from the ground up while raising two children and is one of the most kind and generous people I know.  He is inspiring because of who he not because is someone with quadriplegia.

4.  Don’t police people based on the facilities they do or don’t use or whether they use them consistently. 

Not all disabilities are visible.  Not all people who use a wheelchair need a wheelchair all the time. Some people who might not look disabled do need to use accessible bathrooms. Do not judge people for what they do or don’t use.

5. Practice accountability.  

What your impact is matters more than what your intention was.  Be aware of this and don’t be afraid to admit a mistake.  If you are working at being an ally you are likely to make mistakes from time to time.  When you receive feedback on errors take it onboard and use it to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.  

Being an ally doesn’t involve getting praise.  Being an ally is about using your privilege, your connections and your position to give others a platform.  It is not about you as the ally – it is about the people you are supporting. So do the rubbish jobs – hand out name badges, blow up balloons, be the driver so that you can set the people you are an ally for up for success. Being an ally may not always be easy.  When it gets tough avoid retreating back into privilege and lean into the discomfort. Being an ally can open up a new way of seeing the world.  It can open you up to new experiences and new friendships so don’t be afraid to get started.