OPINION – It began with five simple words typed onto a Facebook page: “I think we should march.”
So, they gathered in Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York City and the National Mall in the District of Columbia.
They gathered in Paris, London, Sydney, Buenos Aires, New Delhi and Mexico City.
They gathered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Paradise Bay, Antarctica; Raleigh, North Carolina; Park City, Utah.
They gathered in St. George, and a lot of other places.
Read more: 1,400 attend Women’s March for solidarity
The numbers are all over the place, but even the most conservative estimates are that more than 2 million people put on their walking shoes and participated in Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington.
It was a result of those five words typed by a shaken Hawaiian grandmother named Teresa Shook the night after the election.
“I didn’t have a plan or a thought about what would happen,” Shook told Reuters by phone from the island of Maui, Hawaii, during an interview in early December. “I just kept saying, I think we should march.”
The next morning Shook, a retired lawyer from Indiana, had one response. She created a private Facebook event page and invited a dozen close friends.
By the following morning, her event had been shared to other Facebook pages and the response was mounting at a torrid pace, with supporters from Hawaii, the mainland and overseas.
It resulted in one of the largest one-day international protests, landing on all seven continents.
I had family and friends march in this powerful and empowering event – in Los Angeles, Denver, Washington, D.C., Park City and St. George.
I am proud of each and every one of them for their humanitarian hearts, social conscience and political activism and humbled by their courage.
Before they took to the streets, organizers of the march put together a statement of principles that includes:
- Accountability and justice for police brutality and dismantling the gender and racial inequities within the criminal justice system.
- Freedom from sexual violence.
- Ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution that would guarantee equal protection based on gender.
- Affirming that all domestic and caretaking work is work, even if unpaid, and that women — especially women of color — bear the brunt of that burden.
- The right to organize and fight for a living minimum wage for all workers, labor protections for undocumented and migrant workers and solidarity with all those exploited for sex and labor.
- Comprehensive reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, and immigrant and refugee rights.
According to the American Association of University Women in 2015, women working full-time in the United States typically were paid just 80 percent of what men were paid.
Since 1994 it has been a struggle to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which is repeatedly the target of conservatives who try to strip it down and eliminate provisions to protect gays, lesbians, transgender people, Native Americans and undocumented aliens.
The Equal Rights Amendment, which received major opposition from conservative and religious groups – including funds and manpower from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to fight ratification – sits just shy of being implemented. The ERA, by the way, was first introduced to Congress in 1923.
What is also at hand here is labor protections to prevent workers from becoming enslaved. That means humane wages and rights, which we all deserve no matter who we are or where we come from.
Human rights know no borders or affiliation. When you recite the Pledge of Allegiance, the last line reads “with liberty and justice for all.” It does not say “with liberty and justice for all white males with an income over $150,000 a year who are members of a mainstream Protestant church and vote Republican.” The “all” is, was and forever shall be all-inclusive.
I have a wife and I love her with all of my heart. She is my partner. She is not my subordinate. She is not my possession. She is my equal in every way.
I view her with respect and admiration because I know how hard she has struggled over the years because of good ole boys who make all the decisions in the workplace. I know the personal struggles of women dealing with misogyny.
I stand in 100 percent support of my wife and my sisters who took to the streets across the nation and overseas because, as stated by Hillary Clinton in a speech long ago, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”
Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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