U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards Talks With AFSCME About Activism
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-MD
U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, D-MD, speaking at a luncheon this week sponsored by AFSCME’s Women’s History Month Committee, said activism on behalf of women can make “the difference between life and death.”
Edwards, who led the effort to pass the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 as co-founder and executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, related the story of a former co-worker who came to work with bruises and cigarette burns.
Volunteering at the time at a hotline for the House of Ruth, Edwards left a card on the woman’s desk with her contact information – just in case. Sometime later, she said, Edwards was awoken by a call. Crying from a Maryland telephone booth, the woman said her husband had beaten her and run her out of her house. She had nowhere else to turn. Edwards drove over to help her and became her advocate through local support agencies.
“So I take this idea of advocacy and activism really seriously,” Edwards said. “It is the difference between life and death, sometimes. And I’m not just talking about domestic violence. I’m talking about the kind of advocacy that makes certain we’re not making tragic cuts in federal and state programs that result in people not receiving the benefits they deserve.”
Edwards said those cuts “most deeply affect those who have been shut out of the mainstream workforce for so many years.”
Edwards also took note of the public service workers who carry out those federal, state and local programs. Noting the right-wing’s “systematic attack” against those workers’ collective bargaining rights, she said, “Not only is it untenable, but we’re going to demonstrate, through the power of our vote, and through our door-knocking, that it’s really unacceptable.”
The Violence Against Women Act is currently up for reauthorization in Congress, but has been stalled by right-wing opponents.