Feminist Majority Foundation Strategies: Physical Protest, Political Consulting and Coalition Work
Given FMF’s stature as one of the women’s rights movement’s most reputable organizations, coalition work is a particularly strategic approach for achieving its agenda. Many of FMF’s staff members have worked at other social justice or NGO-type organizations in DC, as such they have been able to create the connections necessary for creating and joining coalitions. These coalitions are incredibly useful for lobbying public officials, as well as expanding FMF’s expertise on a particular issue. For example the Equal Rights Amendment, originally proposed in 1972, which ultimately forbids the denial of equal rights on the basis of sex, has been brought back to the center stage. Recently, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the ERA amendment. This victory brings the ERA movement just one state away from national ratification. FMF is part of the ERA coalition – a coalition made up of multiple social justice-oriented organizations – which has been at the forefront of a rededicated fight for its ratification. Two weeks ago the ERA coalition was able to lobby over a dozen senators and house representatives in order to have the ERA’s first mock hearing in 33 years. A mock hearing is a simulation of a real congressional hearing. Whilst a real congressional hearing is conducted by the members of the relevant committee to gain more information on a particular issue, a mock committee can be used for strategizing purposes and is sometimes a partisan endeavor. In this case this mock hearing was attended solely by Democratic congressional members and had partisan testimonies. The ERA Coalition’s wide social network that includes major women’s rights stalwarts such as Ellie Smeal (President of FMF) and Alyssa Milano (Actress), meant that it was able to build the social pressure on politicians and leverage the connections necessary to have a successful hearing. The hearing drew much needed media attention to an amendment that is unknown by many in younger generations, therefore widely publicizing the importance of ratifying the ERA. As such, I think that coalition building is the strongest approach I’ve seen during my time working at FMF.