5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

5 Reasons Moms Make Great Advocates

As the world struggles with the pandemic and increasing political division, it is more apparent than ever that government policies – local and global – greatly affect the fates of our families. Many moms have awakened to this reality and are trying to be strong advocates. Yet many don’t know what to do beyond protesting in the streets to get the attention of decision makers. They get frustrated to the point of throwing up their hands and saying, “Why even bother?”

I encourage every mother to engage in the next steps of reaching out personally to elected officials, because we have the motivation and skills to change hearts and minds! For over a decade, I’ve coached everyday folks to meet with members of U.S. Congress. I continually see the characteristics that mothers have that make us powerful advocates.

Here are five reasons that you should tell your government what’s on your mind: 

#1 Moms are powerful

Have you ever been reduced to a weeping heap after watching a news story or a movie about children in distress? In those moments, many of us think, “I wish I weren’t so fragile.” Yet those maternal moments of vulnerability are precisely what give you special strength to speak out for those who needlessly suffer. As mothers, we often find ourselves momentarily consumed by crushing empathy when we encounter stories of parents who can’t give their children what they need. But this emotional response isn’t a sign of weakness. Instead, this ability to internalize another person’s story gives you great power because caring and empathy are contagious.

Your passion can incite a riot of emotion and resolve in your hearers even if—especially if—your voice cracks when you retell it. If your audience is a senator, a congressional aide, or anyone in the path of power, you are in a position to create change. Your emotional retelling is more likely to inspire action than a dry recitation of facts and figures.

Your vulnerability can be your strength. And the ability to turn your emotion into positive, constructive action can be your superpower. When you learn to combine your emotions with information and clear requests, you become dangerous to the status quo. You threaten systems that keep families stuck in cycles of suffering. And that is a very, very good thing.

#2 Moms explain things

If you can sit on the floor and explain a concept to second graders, then you’re speaking plainly enough to be understood by a member of Congress. That may sound like a joke, but I’m quite serious. Explaining concepts to kids means boiling your message down to its most basic parts and delivering it in an engaging way. Even though U.S. representatives might sit in high-level briefings all day, that doesn’t mean they relish listening to someone reel off a bunch of statistics out of context. Children love to hear clear explanations accompanied by stories, and so do adults! Never forget that they’re as human as anyone else. 

#3 Moms are persistent advocates

It would be nice if governments were so efficient that a single conversation could convince a policymaker to support your request. In reality, it usually takes time, patience, and more reminders than you give your children to get their laundry off the floor.

Unfortunately, no matter how urgent you feel your issue is, there will always be hundreds of other matters clamoring for a congressperson’s attention. Plus, if the office staffers are not already aware of your issue, they’re going to have to research and consider your request even if they don’t oppose it. A mother’s touch to provide helpful information and consistent reminders is an incredible advantage. 

#4 Moms are responsible

Once you’ve been the sole person standing between a happy family and total family chaos, you start to view your place in the world a little differently. Some moms are fortunate to have responsible spouses to shoulder a lot of familial tasks. But women in every part of the world bear the heavier responsibility for household chores and child-rearing. Moms are generally the ones making lunches, outfitting diaper bags, scheduling play dates, and making sure you don’t run out of toilet paper or cheese sticks. Moms are chess players looking two, three, and four moves into the future.

So, how does a responsible nature translate to successful advocacy? It allows you to stay organized and prepared to react to the needs of your volunteer groups. It gets you to meetings on time with all the materials you need. It helps you respond to emails from congressional aides in a timely manner. Moms are welcomed at advocacy conferences because we are low-maintenance, responsible, capable people who get things done.

#5 Moms are experts in the most important skills

I won’t tell you that everything I needed to know about advocacy I learned in kindergarten. But I insist that the most critical lessons were learned around age five, especially since the most successful advocates believe in strong teamwork. Advocates should always be prepared to:

  • Treat others with respect;
  • Share;
  • Give everyone in the group a turn to play;
  • Avoid calling anyone a hurtful name;
  • Apologize when you hurt someone; and
  • Say “please” and “thank you” (this is the number one lesson and the step that is most often forgotten when talking with members of Congress as well as other volunteers).

Moms keep all of these skills top of mind because we coach our kids to use them. We should be able to follow them even when our children aren’t in the same room. We can model these important skills for young college activists and aging senators alike.

Our mom voices need to be heard more than ever before in our political climate of nastiness that permeates cable news and social media. Mom advocates can be at the forefront of carrying a positive tone of reason, kindness, and respect into politics. Whatever the cause is that drives you to protect your children, put yourself forward. You are more powerful than you think.

Have you, or would you, approach your government with issues in your community? Has being a parent helped you in this quest?

This is an original post for World Moms Network by Cynthia Levin. Photo credit to the author.

Cindy Levin

Cynthia Changyit Levin is a mother, advocate, speaker, and author of the upcoming book “From Changing Diapers to Changing the World: Why Moms Make Great Advocates and How to Get Started.” A rare breed of non-partisan activist who works across a variety of issues, she coaches volunteers of all ages to build productive relationships with members of Congress. She advocated side-by-side with her two children from their toddler to teen years and crafted a new approach to advocacy based upon her strengths as a mother. Cynthia’s writing and work have appeared in The New York Times, The Financial Times, the Washington Post, and many other national and regional publications. She received the 2021 Cameron Duncan Media Award from RESULTS Educational Fund for her citizen journalism on poverty issues. When she’s not changing the world, Cynthia is usually curled up reading sci-fi/fantasy novels or comic books in which someone else is saving the world.

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MADAGASCAR: 16 days to say NO to gender-based violence

NO to gender-based violence

Did you know that each year, there are 16 days dedicated to the fight against gender-based violence? Starting from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day), millions of activists around the world join this campaign, plan actions and speak up to break the curse of violence in their societies.

First launched in 1991 by the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, the “16 Days Campaign”, as it is usually called, is coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, in partnership with Rutgers University. The event is supported by UN Women and other international institutions aiming at the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) #5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. The fact is that there can’t be any form of empowerment if girls and women still face violence. Women must first be freed from the heavy burden of violence, which impedes all attempts of (r)evolution.

What is gender-based violence? According to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Gender-based violence is “violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately” (CEDAW GR 19, Article 3 Istanbul Convention). And in its Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (A/RES/48/104, article 2), the UN General Assembly identifies various forms of violence, as per the following:

“(a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family; including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.

(b) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution;

(c) Physical, sexual and psychological violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs”

This list has certainly evolved since 1993, especially with the advent of social media and new communications technologies which open the door to new forms of harassment. Strategies developed to tackle this curse must evolve along the same lines.

In Madagascar, domestic violence is one of the most widespread types of gender-based violence and is considered a social taboo. Traditionally, each bride-to-be is advised by her mother or grandmother to remain silent, whatever might happen in her marriage. Women are told that what happens in the bedroom and at home must remain there. My own grandmother, whom I love and cherish, told me that “Marriage means sacrifice. Your husband may do things to you (we never name the evil in Madagascar), but just bite your tongue and everything will be fine.” Thankfully, my husband is not that kind of man, but I still feel it is my duty to stand against this curse and to help the unspeakable to be spoken.

Our first project with the 16 days campaign dates back to 2013. We wrote and produced a short film called “Lettre Femme” (a French pun meaning at the same time letter from/to a woman, the female being, or simply a woman). We shot the film at my mom’s house, featuring my friends, who generously volunteered to participate. Last year, we launched the Malagasy Women’s Manifesto Against all Sorts of Violence through a petition. This year, we plan to organize a variety of trainings about nonviolence.


It is a tragic fact that many Malagasy women are convinced that they deserve some kind of violence from their partner. “If he beats me, it’s because I’ve done something wrong. It’s my own fault.” Even worse, women (mothers mainly) are the ones who help perpetuate this violence – by silencing their girls and normalizing the belief that violence is part of marriage. Our whole society needs to be educated in order to eradicate violence, and this struggle must start in every household. Teach your boys to respect women – this is the message we have to spread to all parents.

If you are interested in joining this year’s official 16 Days Campaign, please click here. You’ll find all the information related to the event, a Toolkit for Action as well as the communications templates that you can use. Register your event and share it with the world so that we can show the world that women are united against violence. Remember, Unity matters! We shall overcome!

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Ketakandriana Rafitoson, our contributor from Madagascar.

Photo credit to the author. 

MADAGASCAR: The Day I met Ban Ki-moon

MADAGASCAR: The Day I met Ban Ki-moon

I am writing this post in chilly Dublin, far away from home. I miss my family and I’m happy to go home soon. I have to stay awake in order to catch my flight and seize this moment to write about a story which recently marked my life.

On May 10, I met Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General and his wife, in my hometown, Antananarivo. The local branch of UNHCHR sent me a personal invitation a few days before, and then someone recalled me saying that I’ve been dropped from the list….Two days later, they called me again to say that I’m on the list. It was quite weird! In fact, it appeared that some UN people didn’t want Mr Ban to meet civil society representatives because they had the feeling that CSOs are “disturbing”, “always critical”, “negative”, and so on….

But someone fought for us and finally, my name was put on the list among 11 other people. I was officially supposed to represent Liberty 32, a non-profit which mainly deals with civic education and human rights, but I also wanted to say something on behalf of Wake Up Madagascar, a nonviolent civil resistance movement that I’m part of.

I thought about a genuine way to pass a message to Mr Ban, which was “Don’t let Malagasy politicians fool you. Our reality is far more horrible than what they will show to you.” In fact, a few days before Ban’s arrival to Madagascar, streets were cleaned, merchants chased from their daily places and misery hidden. Shameful!

On May 9 the 12 of us were asked to meet local UN representatives for a briefing.

They told us to be constructive, not to openly criticize the government because this will put Mr Ban in an “uncomfortable position’. I was more than upset to hear that, and that strengthened my need to do something exceptional.

The D-day, we’d been given an appointment in one of the most luxurious hotels of Antananarivo. No pictures allowed, last briefing remarks. We were ready to meet THE man.

He arrived with his wife and staff, very cool, smiling, and frank. We took an official photo (which we haven’t yet seen since), and we sat down around a square table. After the usual opening remarks and self-introductions, Mr Ban said a few words about his visit, saying that he has always worked with civil society and that this meeting was crucial to him. Then, our representative read our common declaration for 5 minutes.

Afterwards, the Chair asked if someone would like to briefly take the floor. I grabbed the mic and said all I wanted to say in 2 minutes: women and youth problems, insecurity, political instability, fragility, the need to improve citizens’ political participation, and so on. I ended by asking the permission to give Mr. and Mrs. Ban a small gift. Security guards and policemen stood right on their feet but the SG allowed me to do so.

I offered them a special photo album prepared by Wake Up Madagascar – and which I hid as my notebook while entering the room. 15 striking photos showing Malagasy people’s misery and extreme poverty…. I kindly asked Mr Ban not to throw it away, and I believe (I hope) he didn’t…. After answering our talks in a very sincere way, he kept the album with him, didn’t give it to his assistant, as he left us.

On May 11, Mr Ban gave an address before MPs and the government, and his words were sharp as a knife. Have our messages reached their destination?  Who knows? I wanted to share this story because it made me so proud. Being a mom implies taking some risks, not only for your family, but also for your country. Don’t you ever let someone tell you to close your mouth when you have something important to say! Speak up! Speak out! That may change some lives! I don’t pretend I’ve changed the world, but I stood for my world, at my small scale. And that matters.

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Ketakandriana Rafitoson, our new contributor from Madagascar.

Photo courtesy of Inge van Mill, via Minister-president Rutte / Flickr.

CHICAGO, USA: BlogHer International Activist Panel 2013

CHICAGO, USA: BlogHer International Activist Panel 2013

Upstairs in a quiet little room, tucked away far from the madding crowd – were four of the most inspirational women I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  They came from far and wide, each with a story to tell, of lives we can hardly imagine. Yet here they were – ready to share and let us peek in their windows and see their souls.

Not too many of the thousands of women attending BlogHer 2013 even knew that these women were here, how far they had come, how they had poured their hearts into the words that had earned them scholarships to be in the United States.

So very far from where they called home.
So very far from the lives we often take for granted.

Every year for around 5 years now, BlogHer has opened a competition across the globe to invite female activists to write in and tell BlogHer why they should come and tell their story. An all expenses paid trip from wherever they may be to share with us sometimes the unspeakable, sometimes the heart wrenching and always the uplifting on how just one person can make a difference.
This year there were four scholarship recipients:

  • Zeng Jinyan from Mainland China – both her and her husband, an AIDS activist, have been on house arrest, and she was listed as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 People Influencing the World in 2007.
  • Ayesha Sultana, an activist since she was 19, her family from Pakistan and now residing in Canada spoke of the time her father attacked her with a knife at the dinner table as her mother did nothing.
  • Jennifer Tosch, an American living in Amsterdam and the founder of black heritage tours, after she followed her mother’s mysterious past to Europe.
  • Purnima Ramakrishnan from India is the writer of The Alchemist; Senior Editor of World Moms Blog; activist for vaccines, maternal health and the girls of India; and also my friend …

I was so very taken with their words, that it did not occur to me between wiping my tears to take even one photo. I have only this one of my dear friend and also the founder of World Moms Blog, Jennifer Burden and the lovely Purnima Ramakrishnan, side by side … but I could not love this shot more!



This is Purnima’s very first trip to the United States, flying alone and such a teeny soul she was taken for an unaccompanied minor. I hope that you visit Purnima’s corner of the blogosphere The Alchemists Blog – she has so much to share with the incredible work she does for The Gates Foundation, GAVI Alliance, and The Huffington Post to mention a few!

There were many tears shed during this session.

These are voices that cry out to be heard.

Their stories are of hardships, struggles, and loss.

But their eyes shine as they tell of what they hope for the future and about realizing their dreams.

Since 2009, these ladies who have received the BlogHer International Activist Scholarships have walked the halls of BlogHer with incredible stories to tell, of the lives they have led, of countries far away where politics reign supreme, democracy may never reach and injustices prevail daily. They make a difference in a world, leaving footprints of change where most of us have barely left an imprint. They need us to share, to speak, to join forces and say that no matter where in the world our fellow sisters are, we are indeed all sisters – a mantra so very dear to my heart, here, at World Moms Blog and in the community I am building at Sisters from Another Mister.

As a single Mom raising two girls in Boca Raton FL, my hardships are few. Sure my emotions are drained daily, but I never doubt that I can conquer my fears and rise to where I need to be. These women have shown extraordinary courage, they break barriers for women everywhere and their stories are to be brought to the light. As a Mom, I strive to be an example to my children. Writing for Shot@Life, working with the UN Foundation and a member of the Global Team of 200 because my heart feels the need, and so that my children can see that there is more than what they see in this plastic world we live in.

In the words of BlogHer;

Ayesha Sultana, a Pakistan Native residing in Canada, writes at Dance of Red to shed light on gender violence and sexual violence, and its wider impact on society.

Jennifer Tosch comes to us from The Netherlands, where she works to explore and share the ‘hidden histories’ of the African Diaspora throughout the world, many of the stories focus on Africa and the former colonies of the Netherlands, through her site and Facebook page, Black Heritage Tours.

Purnima Ramakrishnan lives and works in India, creating support and raising awareness for mothers and children through her personal blog and as one of the Senior Editors of World Moms Blog.

Zeng Jinyan was honored in both 2007 and 2009, but was unable to attend due to being under house arrest in China because of her blog and her husband’s work as an environmental and AIDS activist. (Her journey has been well-documented here on BlogHer.com.) Named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007, Zeng Jinyan was allowed to move to Hong Kong and can travel. We couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to host her. Finally.

I hope that you look them up, that you follow their work, that you can know their names … and be proud of the mark that women are making on the world!

These women, they are more. They are change … and thank you to BlogHer for letting their lights shine every so brightly. They bear witness to my children, this next generation, and I pray they will raise the torch and carry it forward. So BlogHer ladies, if I may be so bold, next year, bring these ladies into the ballroom, let the spotlights lift their causes, let the thousands of women who descend on this conference feed their souls, take in the spirit of the scholarship winners and carry their energy home.

When we see what they have achieved alone, imagine what we could do together?

This – this is Life Well Said.

Thank you.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor, Nicole Morgan of Sisters from Another Mister in Florida, USA. 

Photo credit to Beth Rosen. 

Sisters From Another Mister

Sisters From Another Mister ...
A blog born from the love of 'sisters' around the world who come together to lift eachother up no matter where they are on their life journey.

Meet Nicole, a transplanted British born, South African raised, and American made Mom of two girls living on the sunny shores of South Florida, USA. A writer of stories, an avid picture taker and a keeper of shiny memories.

Sharing the travels of a home school journey that takes place around the globe - because 'the world truly is our classroom'. Throw in infertility, adoption, separation, impending divorce (it has its own Doom and Gloom category on the blog) and a much needed added side of European humor is what keeps it all together on the days when it could quite clearly simply fall apart! This segues nicely into Finding a Mister for a Sister for continued amusement.

When not obsessing over the perils of dating as an old person, saving the world thro organisations such as being an ambassador for shot@life, supporting GirlUP, The UN Foundation, ONE.org and being a member of the Global Team of 200 for social good keeps life in the balance.

Be sure to visit, because 'even tho we may not have been sisters at the start, we are sisters from the heart.'

Global Team of 200 #socialgoodmoms
Champion for Shot@Life and The United Nations Foundation

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