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Florence, Godelive, and Nazera did not have a say in the U.S. election, and yet it may have a profound effect on their lives.

Florence in South Sudan and Godelive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are ‘sisters’ that I sponsor through Women for Women International. Nazera is a Syrian refugee I spoke to in Jordan as part of designing our program there. All three are deeply affected by the policies of the U.S. administration in regards to development and diplomacy, and it is them that I thought of on the morning of the election. I feel that it is my duty – our duty - to speak to this Administration--- for me and for them.

Our nation, under past Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, has supported women's equality worldwide. We have also – with the Sustainable Development Goals – committed to being a part of a global community that eradicates extreme poverty by 2030.  I fear that the progress we as a nation have achieved and the commitments we have made, will be stopped and dismantled unless we as citizens speak up loudly and clearly.  We must resist the temptation to turn inward.  We are not a nation that protects and serves only ourselves.  Our country's history, our founding principles, and yes, our position as the wealthiest nation on the planet, mean we must always support the tens of millions of marginalized women – and men – who are affected by conflict, war, violence, and extreme poverty.

Photo credit: Mark Darrough, 2012

Development and diplomacy are critical pillars undergirding the power of our global leadership. Recently, the nominee for Secretary of Defense, Gen. James Mattis said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, I am going to have to buy more ammunition.” His comment emphasizes the importance of a strong international development and diplomatic approach towards addressing the world’s complex challenges. We must continue to utilize a diverse toolbox that includes strong support of international development efforts in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals to which we have committed.

My organization, Women for Women International, has worked directly with close to half a million women- such as Godelive and Florence – facing extreme poverty, violence and discrimination. We know the critical importance to these women of support from women and men in the U.S. We dedicate ourselves to creating a world in which all women can determine the course of their lives and reach their full potential.

This is why we at Women for Women International will be standing up for women everywhere at the Women’s March on Washington in January. We encourage the Administration to continue to support as a paramount objective a commitment to women within U.S. foreign policy. We march to ensure that women’s rights remain in the forefront of this conversation. We march so that no woman is forgotten. We invite you to stand with us to unite in solidarity:

  • Speak out/Stand up: Women for Women International will join the thousands of women and men who are mobilizing on the first day of the new administration, Saturday, January 21, to vocalize our support for the continued advancement of women’s rights and well-being. Join us at the Women’s March on Washington, or attend local activities planned in your state. To learn more about how you can join Women for Women International on January 21, please email events@womenforwomen.org.

  • Share: Follow us on social media – repost the stories of inspiring women on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram using the campaign hashtag #HerVoiceMyVoice.

  • Connect: Sponsor a woman to enroll in our year-long program. Via our personalized match program, send and receive letters and provide critical financial support and training. Invite your friends to sponsor a woman too!

In closing, I’d like to reflect on the inspiring words of my colleague, the Country Director of our program in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Abdoulaye Toure:

“Development aid and women's dignity for social justice is not charity, it’s our responsibility. No one can live happily if their neighbor and their neighbor's neighbor, is living in extreme poverty. The well-being of all of us depends on our ability to build a world of hope and to overcome marginalization and social injustice.”

This blog was originally posted by WfWI President Laurie Adams on the Huffington Post on December 14, 2016.

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