13 Virtual Advocacy IRL

There are plenty of IRL (in real life) examples of how virtual advocacy participates in the cycle of policy formation. Check out how Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani  called for a bold, out-of-the-box plan. that resulted in a resolution and eventual legislation.

You may have heard of Girls Who Code (girlswhocode.com). It aims to close the gender gap in technology and was founded by Reshma Saujani, the first Indian American woman to run for Congress, in 2010. It has evolved from a non-profit, into a movement, and its team of advocates set a policy agenda that has paved way for state legislation. When the Coronavirus Crisis hit in 2020, Saujani penned the following letter and wrote various op-eds and guest articles about the need for legislation that would support one of society’s most crucial yet unpaid and under-supported job title: mom. See the open letter ad text here:  https://momsfirst.us/news/dear-president-biden/, as well an article explaining the ad: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/mothers-pandemic-girls-who-code-reshma-saujani-b1793192.html. From this letter, momentum gained for the grassroots campaign, Marshall Plan for Moms, which has since become Moms F1rst (https://momsfirst.us/about/). It’s important to note that Girls Who Code, then became the Marshall Plan for Moms, and eventually Moms F1rst, all gained a lot of attention and momentum through social media. Undoubtedly, there were in-person meetings and lobbying efforts to push agendas forward. However, hashtag activism absolutely played a role. You can check out the following hashtags on Twitter to see more: #GirlsWhoCode #MarshallPlanforMoms or see some of the main accounts’ viral work @MomsFirstUS  @reshmasaujani .

 The Marshall Plan for Moms movement resulted in a resolution passed by the House of Representatives, Recognizing that the United States needs a Marshall Plan for Moms in order to revitalize and restore mothers in the workforce.​ After the passage of this resolution (which functions more as an act of support rather than working legislation), the American Rescue Plan was an initial key legislative goal. It has since been enacted: signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. Paid parental leave (in the private sector) was also a crucial component fought for in President Biden’s Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), which will also provide free universal preschool and expand child tax credits.

  1. Op-Ed by Saujani
  2. The grassroots campaign: Marshall Plan for Moms (has since become MomsF1rst)
  3. The resulting resolution was H.Res.121 – Recognizing that the United States needs a Marshall Plan for Moms in order to revitalize and restore mothers in the workforce.​
    •  Read the full resolution here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-resolution/121/text?r=2&s=2
    • The resolution’s summary on Congress.gov reads:This resolution declares that(1) the United States needs a Marshall Plan for Moms to revitalize and restore mothers in the workforce; and(2) mothers, especially mothers of color have been pushed to the brink of economic, social, and emotional collapse during the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic because of the existing economic and social inequalities women have long faced.The resolution also states that any relief and long-term recovery package to address the COVID-19 crisis must recognize and rebuild moms in the workforce by including certain policies such as
      • establishing a robust paid leave plan;
      • rebuilding and stabilizing the child care industry;
      • providing necessary child poverty reduction tools for families’ economic security that include recurring child benefits and an expanded and improved child tax credit and earned income tax credit;
      • establishing an expanded unemployment insurance program that benefits struggling workers, including those experiencing long-term unemployment;
      • raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour or higher for all minimum wage workers; and
      • providing access to mental health support for mothers.

      Finally, the resolution declares that employers and policymakers must prioritize addressing the economic cliff facing mothers and make permanent the policies set forth in this resolution so that mothers are protected against any future economic calamities.

  4. ​The American Rescue Plan (ARP) of 2021 legislation details can be found on Congress. gov:
    • https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1319/text
    • ARP 2021 legislation is far-reaching in that it addresses a variety of concerns and allocates funding to a variety of departments (e.g. Department of Education, Department of Transportation). For example, ARP authorized the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III (HEERF III), allocating $39.6 billion in education funds. Read more on the Department of Education’s website: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/arp.html.
  5. Build Back Better
    • A social infrastructure policy that also may be considered omnibus legislation given that it provides funding for a variety of diverse programs/tax credits/initiatives.
    • https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/10/28/president-biden-announces-the-build-back-better-framework/

Isn’t this amazing? This is advocacy becoming policy IRL!!


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