AFJ Member Spotlight is a series where we highlight the great advocacy work of Alliance for Justice member organizations. AFJ is an alliance of 130 national, regional, and local organizations working for a wide range of progressive causes, united in our commitment to advancing justice and democracy. Click here for more information on becoming an AFJ member organization.
Maine Women’s Lobby is an advocate on the issues affecting the lives of Maine women and girls.
What is Maine Women’s issue focus?
Maine Women’s Lobby is the only advocacy organization in Maine working on the full range of issues that affect women: freedom from violence, freedom from discrimination, access to healthcare, and the overarching issue of economic security.
Tell us about a current campaign or priority project.
Right now, Maine Women’s Lobby is prioritizing two policies that improve women’s economic security: earned paid sick days and a system of paid family leave insurance. With regard to paid sick days, our goal is to see an ordinance passed in 2018 in Maine’s largest city, Portland. This will ease the lives of low wage workers, improve public health, and pave the way for state action. With regard to paid leave, we are building support for state action by screening the documentary Zero Weeks, talking with Mainers about their experiences, and ensuring that this is an issue that candidates address.
Tips and lessons: Social change takes time and coming together.
Working for social change means being in it for the long haul. Some big wins, like marriage equality, have seemed to come about suddenly, but in fact the work of hundreds of people over decades made them possible. I try to remember that when I am frustrated and tired.
As an organization, we are working to be more diverse and representational in our work. We have a way to go, but we know that there are many different experiences of being a woman and that the issues that impact us are much more difficult for those who have been traditionally marginalized. If we’re going to get anywhere on the issues, we need to be working together.
Many of our member organizations work with both our Bolder Advocacy program on 501(c)(3) advocacy rules and guidance, and our Justice programs on the importance of the courts and judicial nominations. Is there a specific resource that has helped you in your advocacy? Are the courts taking on new importance for you this year?
I have twice served as Executive Director to c3 and c4 organizations working toward the same goal, and I have looked to Bolder Advocacy for guidance in being effective while complying with the law.
In terms of the courts, the short answer is yes, yes, yes! We have worked on the federal courts for a long time, but today we are seeing a consistent pattern among nominees. These nominees are hostile to women and to LGBTQ Americans. The courts are very important to women in determining our access to healthcare, or determining our rights at work, for example. They have played a critical role in challenging some of President Trump’s worst actions, like the travel ban.
Tell us who inspires you.
I am inspired by the women who have come before and accomplished so much – not just the famous women but especially the unsung women who stood up for themselves and in doing so made life better for all of us. I really enjoyed Gillian Thomas’s book Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases and Fifty Years that Changed American Women’s Lives at Work.
Like a lot of Americans, I am inspired by the student survivors from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. They have already brought about significant change through their courage and clear demand for action.
Learn more about Maine Women’s Lobby here.