One of our Members, Ciara, shares her experiences of getting involved in ARC’s Policy and Advocacy Working Group, known as P&A.
When I joined ARC and decided to head along to a Policy & Advocacy meeting, I didn’t know what to expect. I was sure the meeting would be full of qualified lawyers and people with PhD’s in related fields. As someone with just a passing interest in politics and no relevant experience, I was sure I would be out of my depth. But, as it happened, the group was really welcoming and there a complete mix of experience. To my relief, there were many other people who were also brand new to activism as well as really helpful current ARC members. During the meeting the group always explained the context of discussions and any technical references.
As part of my first project, I signed up to help complete a submission to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, where we outlined the ways Ireland’s abortion laws violated the rights of pregnant people. Although I only contributed in a small way to the proofreading and polishing off of the great work others had already done on the submission, I was so thrilled to have actually contributed to a document going to the UN. I was amazed at how easy it was to start making a difference. I couldn’t wait to start another project.
More recently I’ve worked on submissions to the Irish Government on the abortion bill where we called for accessible, accountable and evidence-based abortion care that left no one behind. I’ve also helped prepare submissions to legislators in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar, both places where abortion is heavily restricted, calling upon them to provide free, safe, legal and local abortion access.
The work I do with ARC has helped me to improve my policy analysis skills, polish my writing, and has even helped me in conversations with friends and family when it came to challenging some common myths about abortion. I’ve also gained experience canvassing and talking to my TD’s, and have passed those skills onto others in ARC-led trainings.
In those first few months, I learned how ARC members work together. There is a really positive and constructive environment, where everyone is encouraged to have a go and contribute, no matter what your level of experience might be. If you have an idea, other people will be encouraging. We learn by doing. The important thing is not your background or existing skills, but just to be willing to try. There is a great ARC tradition of skill-sharing and helping new members to step up, which really benefited me.
And because we do a lot of our work between meetings on shared Google docs, it’s easy for people to participate no matter where they live, whether it be in Sligo or Chicago.
Having been in P&A for almost two years now, I have gained so many new skills from research and editing to project management and training, which I have definitely been able to apply in other areas of my life. I have done things I never thought I would have the confidence to do, including speaking to rooms full of people about abortion. I have also met the best people and gained life-long friends.
It’s easy to get involved; just fill out this simple form and we will be back to you within a few days.