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Diaper Rights

Diaper Rights: Health, Hygiene and Public Policy conference was held on April 30, 2010 at Yale Law School. The conference joined advocates to address the shaping of a legislative initiative for individuals in need, from infants to the elderly, to be supported by public financing for diapers.

Over 55 Participants attended, including state and federal government officials, members of several professions (doctors, lawyers, social workers, public health, journalists, public relations specialists, industry representatives, and academics), and representatives of organizations dedicated to issues of concern to women, children, families, and labor. Click here to see a full list of participants.

Participants discussed how the coalition could frame legislative efforts. It was decided to start with efforts to raise awareness. The coalition will need to test different narrative frames for the cause to see which garners the most consistent support, and then develop it into a legislative frame. As discussed in one of the panels, participants turned back to the power of internet networks for improved communications. Social media and social networks are new avenues for faster, broader conversation. Participants also considered the costs and benefits of republican and non-traditional sponsors.

At the end of the conference, participants discussed ways the coalition could move forward. Participants reiterated the necessity of defining basic needs, and including diapers in those needs as a public health and equality necessity. In the future, the coalition should look for ways to collaborate with other organizations that believe in diapers as a basic right. For example, the diaper rights effort could coordinate with AARP, and convince them to widen the audience of the services they already provide, rather than working alone.

Participants also discussed paths to change on the local, state and national level. On the local level, private charity efforts such as the Diaper Bank can be extremely helpful, so the goal must be to convince the government that this kind of aid should be mandated. On the state level, it is vital to spread the diaper rights message to every state, and educate legislators and advocates across the country to encourage bottom-up change. To bring national attention to the cause of diaper rights, an event was suggested on Mother’s Day in Washington, D.C. or a state capital. The coalition’s goal must be to seek local, state and national change, to meet the basic human needs of everyone from cradle to grave.

Click here to read the full DRAFT conference report.

Diaper Rights was sponsored by the Diaper Bank, Yale Law School’s Arthur Liman Public Interest Program and Fund, and Wiggin and Dana LLP. 

The Diaper Bank (TDB) centralizes the fundraising for and distribution of free diapers to poor families through existing service providers, including local food pantries, soup kitchens, daycare centers, social service agencies and shelters. TDB’s missions are to ensure that families living in poverty have an adequate supply of diapers for their infants and toddlers; to raise community awareness that ‘basic human needs” include diapers and that these needs are not being met for children living in poverty; and to advocate for policy reform so that diapers are included in the definition of and provision for families’ “basic human needs”.

The Arthur Liman Public Interest Program and Fund at Yale Law School, founded in 1997 to honor Arthur Liman, supports the work of Yale Law School students, Yale Law School graduate fellows, and summer fellows from Barnard, Brown, Harvard, Princeton, Spelman, and Yale. Liman projects work to respond to problems of inequality and to improve access to justice. Every year, the Program organizes the Liman Colloquium, which brings together advocates, scholars, and students from across the country for a day-long discussion about emerging issues of theory and advocacy.

Wiggin and Dana LLP for more than 75 years has been a regional law firm with a global reach. With over 135 attorneys and offices in Connecticut, New York and Philadelphia, the firm counsels its corporate, institutional and individual clients with respect to virtually all their legal needs.