Federation of American Women's Clubs
FAWCO interim meeting, 11–13 March 2016 Notes
Mary Stewart Burgher was delighted to represent AWC Denmark at the FAWCO Interim Meeting in Germany on 11–13 March. Rather than a conference, the aim was to do all FAWCO’s business, including handing out $73,000 in scholarships and developments grants, in two and a half days.
As always, there was an action-packed schedule. Day started with 7.30 breakfast meetings; formal session started at 8:30 and was scheduled to end at 18:00. Social events started at 19:00 and continued until people nod off.
At present, FAWCO has 65 clubs in 38 countries, with 12,000 members. It is the oldest and largest organization of civilian expat Americans.
News for US citizens
A 2015 law allows Treasury to tell the State Department not to issue passports to US persons who are “tax-delinquents”, or even to revoke passports! How the law will be implemented is the big question, and FAWCO and its partners will focus on that during Overseas Americans Week. FAWCO and the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO) wrote a letter to Secretary of State Kerry about implementation of the new law.
What can you do?
Use the model letter on the FAWCO website (https://www.fawco.org/us-issues/us-liaison/3494-threat-to-passports-of-delinquent-taxpayers) to write about the law to your Representative and Senators. (And consider dropping by their local offices when you visit the US.) Whenever you write to your legislators, remind them that 2015 State Department estimates put the overseas American population at 8.7 million, the equivalent in numbers to the 12th largest state (or equal to the combined populations of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Tucson ...)!
Contacting your Congress people can pay off: because constituents complained about FATCA, a Congressman is proposing to approach Treasury about its effects on overseas citizens.
In other information about taxes, there’s a new item on the 1040, where filers have to say what health insurance they have. In addition, if you have a foreign company, you can still file as an individual if the company is NOT registered in the US.
Good news about voting for US citizens: 36 states and the District of Columbia now allow citizen children to vote: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. Register to vote through the FAWCO site (link is here: https://www.fawco.org/us-issues/us-voting-from-overseas)!
FAWCO Target Programs: old and new
FAWCO’s first Target Program, focusing in human rights, came to an end. It supported a project called Free the Girls, which aims to help trafficked African women re-enter society by starting their own businesses. Women in program are not trafficked again. They run their own businesses and support and educate their children and those of extended families.
Fundraising campaign in 2014–2016 was called Backing Women. Forty-one clubs in all FAWCO regions took part. Three clubs raised more than $6,000; AWC Denmark was a Silver Donor (giving up to $1000). Free the Girls had requested $157,200, and FAWCO delivered $172,000!
The 2016–2019 FAWCO Target Program focuses on: education: empowering women and girls through knowledge and skills. Projects can be nominated from 1 May to 30 September. The winner will be announced at the 2017 FAWCO Conference. See the FAWCO site to find out more (https://www.fawco.org/global-issues/target-program/target-program-education).
From 1972 to 2016, the Foundation (see http://www.fawcofoundation.org) gave out $1,268,000 raised by member clubs. People and projects in AWC Denmark’s Region 2 got $108,250.
During 2016, the Foundation is making its last donations to the NEEED program (for educating girls and women in Burkina Faso) after supporting it for six years. This started when AWC Denmark nominated the Lambs project (later NEEED), which won a Development Grant in 2007. The results are – in addition to starting hundreds of girls in primary schools – paying for the university education of 16 teachers, 9 nurses, 9 midwives, 2 other women with university degrees and 2 doctors. All the graduates are employed in their fields.
Sadly, the Foundation is ceasing to support NEEED because of the new Target Program on education. Perhaps AWC Denmark should nominate NEEED as the project for that.
See the Foundation site (http://www.fawcofoundation.org) for details on the winners of the education awards (remember that 3 are for club members – why shouldn’t one of our people win one?) and the development grants. I was glad to see so many of the projects AWC Denmark voted for receive 2016 grants: the Metawai Boarding School in Indonesia (new roof), the Hope Alive Foundation Mary Handley Initiative on Child Health and Education in Malawi, Solar Powered Showers for Health and Academic Excellence in Northern Ethiopia, Eye Surgery and Placement of Prosthetic Eyes in the Philippines, Growing Guayule to Fight AIDS and Provide Bio-Fuel (AKA Condoms, Cash and Cooking Fuel) in South Africa, Casa Ruth and the New Hope Cooperative Project in Italy, Frauen Helfen Frauen (Women Helping Women) in Germany. Thanks for your votes!
In addition, the Foundation raised a good amount of money during the Interim Meeting. Another gorgeous quilt assembled by former AWC Denmark member Roberta Zöllner was raffled off. Mary Stewart didn’t win it – FAUSA member Rick Chizmadia did – but all the money raised went to the Foundation, as did the proceeds of Foundation night: $30,000 from the silent and live auctions and sales of items during the meeting
New FAWCO logo, tagline and mission statement
The rebranding taskforce included Terri Knudsen of AWC Denmark. Its aim was to update the perception of FAWCO, not its nature. The familiar logo was my buddy for the meeting: Ellen, president of AWC Zurich. The new brand will show what FAWCO should be in new millennium. FAWCO is a gateway for members and clubs to global action. Its brand values are American spirit, global perspective, personal commitment, combined with FAWCO’s four pillars: empowering communities, philanthropy, voice in Washington, global women's voice.
Mission statement: FAWCO is an international federation of independent organizations whose mission is:
- to build strong support networks for its American and international membership;
- to improve the lives of women and girls worldwide;
- to advocate for the rights of U.S. citizens overseas; and
- to mobilize the skills of its membership in support of global initiatives for education, the environment, health and human rights.
Save the dates for upcoming FAWCO events
Region 5 (Germany and Austria) will hold its regional meeting in Berlin, on 11-13 November, and all FAWCO members are welcome. Wouldn’t you like a weekend in Berlin?
FAWCO will hold its Biannual Conference on 30 March–2 April 2017 in Mumbai, India! The Mumbai Club promises we'll get a good room rate (double will be $90–100 per night) and the Conference fees will be comparable to what we usually pay. The Conference venue will be the Trident Hotel, Nariman Point, Mumbai; there will be day tours, and pre- and post-Conference tour packages. Members can apply for a visa to India online, and should see the State Department website for info about vaccinations, etc.
The Mumbai Club was founded in 1928, has about 200 members and supports 6 charities for girls and women, especially those with disabilities or economic disadvantage.
Make your vote count in 2016!
Your vote counts! All states are required to count every valid absentee ballot that reaches local election officials by the deadline. Did you know that many elections for the U.S. Congress have been decided by a margin smaller than the number of ballots cast by absentee voters?
Register and request your ballot as soon as possible (a) to ensure that you do so in good time and (b) to take part in your state’s primary election, if you wish to.
Follow a few simple steps to make sure that you can vote in the 2016 U.S. elections. To do this, use online resources available to you, including:
Send questions to the FAWCO Voting from Overseas Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
1. Request your ballot
You must complete a new ballot request after 1 January 2016 to ensure you receive your ballot for the 2016 elections. This allows you to request absentee ballots for all elections, including primaries and special elections, during the calendar year in which it is submitted.
You can complete the form online. The online voting assistant will ask you questions specific to your state. We encourage you to ask your local election officials to deliver your blank ballots to you electronically (by email or Internet download, depending on your state). Include your email address on your form to take advantage of the option for electronic ballot delivery, and to allow your local election official to contact you easily if necessary.
Send the registration form/ballot request to your local election official according to the instructions that accompany it. The website will tell you if your state allows the form to be returned electronically or if you must submit a paper copy with original signature. If you must return a paper version, see below for mailing options.
The instructions accompanying your form will give the name and contact details of your local election official. It’s a good idea to contact him or her after you’ve submitted the form, to ensure that you are registered.
2. Receive and complete your ballot
States are required to send out ballots 45 days before a regular election for federal office and states generally send out ballots at least 30 days before primary elections. For most states, you can confirm your registration and ballot delivery online.
Some states allow you to return your completed ballot electronically and others do not. If your state requires you to return paper voting forms or ballots to local election officials, you can do so free of charge at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Place your ballots in postage paid return envelopes or in envelopes bearing sufficient domestic U.S. postage, and address them to the relevant local election officials.
If it’s more convenient for you, you can also return your form/request or ballot to your local election officials via international mail or professional courier service at your own expense. If you send the ballot by post, we recommend you send it registered mail to ensure delivery.
3. If your ballot does not arrive in time, send a write-in ballot
If your ballot has not reached you by 14 October, go back to the website where you filled out your registration form, and generate a federal write-in absentee ballot (FWAB). Complete and submit it as instructed. If your regular ballot arrives after you have sent off your FWAB, vote and send it, too, and let the local election official decide which one to count.
Researching the candidates and issues
Non-partisan information about candidates, their voting records, and their positions on issues is widely available and easy to obtain online. You can also read national and hometown newspapers online, or search the Internet to locate articles and information.
Remember, your vote counts! Your country needs to hear your voice.
Did You Know That ...
FAWCO offers AWC members’ children and grandchildren scholarships, as well as opportunities to explore the world with other young people. They do not need to hold USA passports to participate. See more about this on the FAWCO Foundation website.
Mary Stewart Burgher