Tuesday July 16, 2019
Home Lead Story U.S. Capital ...

U.S. Capital Expects Thousands Of Women To Attend 3rd Annual March

Despite the controversy, marches are planned in almost every U.S. state.

0
//
Women's March
Kelly Duncan chants with "Gone 2020" slogan painted on her cheek as she participates in the Second Annual Women's March in Washington, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

Thousands of women are gathering in cities in the United States and around the world Saturday for the third annual Women’s March to demand gender equality and call attention to environmental concerns and immigrant rights, among other issues.

The beginning

The first Women’s March was held in 2017, the day after Donald Trump was sworn in as president of the United States.

On Trump’s first full day in office, hundreds of thousands of women descended on Washington in a display of popular opposition to the new administration and its policies. Sister marches were held in more than 600 locations in the U.S. and across the globe in solidarity with the marchers in Washington.

Peter Newsham, Washington’s interim police chief at the time, said of the march in the U.S. capital, “The crowd stretches so far that there’s no room left to march.”

Women's March,
People carrying signs join hundreds of demonstrators in the Women’s March in downtown Los Angeles, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

Many of the women wore knitted pink “pussycat” hats, featuring small catlike ears, to show their solidarity with the anti-Trump sentiments and as an oblique reference to vulgar comments Trump was known to have made years before he entered politics.

Moment to movement

In 2018, organizers of the Women’s March sought to build on the first rally by focusing on politics and the power of women voters. They held the second march in Nevada, a battleground state for the midterm elections later in the year. The rally touting the message “Power to the Polls” focused on voter registration, featuring activists and members of Congress as speakers.

As in 2017, sister marches were held in cities across the U.S. and thousands of women also marched in London, Paris, Sydney and other European and Australian cities.

In 2019, the organizers are bringing the march back to Washington. Hopes were high for this year’s turnout, especially after a record 102 women were elected to the House of Representatives in the midterms at the end of last year.

Women's March
People listen to speeches at the Women’s March in opposition to the agenda and rhetoric of President Donald Trump in Washington, Jan. 21, 2017. VOA

A growing controversy

Several prominent women’s and civil rights organization are absent from the list of partners published on the Women’s March website.

Among those that had partnered with the group in the past, but missing in 2019, are civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center and the political action committee Emily’s List. By late Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee had also withdrawn its name from the list of partners.

The controversy surrounds several Women’s March leaders who have been accused of holding racist and anti-Semitic views.

Organizers have repeatedly denied all accusations of misconduct or using inappropriate speech.

The issue resurfaced when two of the march’s organizers appeared on ABC talk show The View on Monday and refused to denounce Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, who has made repeated anti-Semitic and anti-white remarks.

Women's March
Eight-year-old Zoe Rodis leans on her mother Jennifer Rodis, right, during a Women’s March rally, Jan. 21, 2018, in Las Vegas. VOA

When asked why she had posted a photo of Farrakhan on Instagram with a caption that included the hashtag for the title “Greatest Of All Time,” Women’s March’s co-president Tamika Mallory said, “I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric. I called him the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities.”

Mallory’s co-president, Bob Bland, denied allegations printed in The New York Times and the Jewish magazine Tablet that members of the organization had expressed anti-Semitic beliefs at a meeting behind closed doors.

“The people that the journalist spoke to did not tell the truth, period, full stop,” Bland said. “The Women’s March unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism, bigotry, transphobia. … We condemn any statements of hate.”

Going forward

Some marchgoers say they are not deterred.

“The controversy has certainly influenced conversations around my decision to attend or not. Though it never was going to stop me, even more so I feel it’s important to attend,” said Naomi Zipursky of San Francisco. She will be in Washington Saturday.

Women's March
People hold an American flag during the second annual Women’s March in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 20, 2018. VOA

“By not showing up, I don’t even allow the conversation to begin and only create a bigger gap.”

“The thought that I, as a Jewish woman, wouldn’t be welcome or would need to leave part of my identity at the door in order to attend the march is disheartening and frankly, alienating,” Zipursky said. “(But) I also believe that what one person may say or do doesn’t necessarily represent what an entire organization may stand for.”

A separate “March for ALL Women” is planned for Saturday in the U.S. capital, with organizers rallying those who may feel the main march is divisive and not inclusive.

Many participants don’t think the marches will ever compare to the first one.

“It’s going to be very hard to pull off the momentum of the first women’s march,” said Mary Tablante, communications officer at the Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “I am still going (this year) because I do think they are trying to improve it. There’s still a lot of work to be done in the movement.”

Also Read: Women Living in Countries with Gender Equality have better Cognitive Test Scores: Study

Despite the controversy, marches are planned in almost every U.S. state. ABC News reports some states will hold multiple marches: California plans to have more than 30 marches, New York 15, Texas, 13 and Florida 11. Michigan will host eight and Pennsylvania seven.

Marches are also planned in more than a dozen European nations, as well as in Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Pakistan, Israel, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, and South Africa, among others. (VOA)

Next Story

UN Launches Campaign to Bring Young Generation into Gender Equality Fight

UN Women announced its new "Generation Equality: Realizing women's rights for an equal future'' at a news conference

0
gender equality
FILE - Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of U.N. Women, speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in New York, March 7, 2018. VOA

The U.N. women’s agency launched a campaign Monday to bring a young generation of women and men into the campaign for gender equality ahead of next year’s 25th anniversary of the conference that adopted the only international platform to achieve women’s rights and empowerment.

UN Women announced its new “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” at a news conference where it also made public events planned to mark adoption of the 150-page platform for action to achieve gender equality by 189 governments at the 1995 Beijing women’s conference.

“Today, nearly 25 years after the historic Beijing conference, the reality is that not a single country can claim to have achieved gender equality,” said a statement from UN Women’s executive director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. “Despite some progress, real change has been too slow for most women and girls in the world, and we see significant pushback in many places.”

“Women continue to be discriminated against and their contributions undervalued,” she added. “They work more, earn less and have fewer choices about their bodies, livelihoods and futures than men – and they experience multiple forms of violence at home, at work and in public spaces.”

gender equality
Chinese women delegates walk together to pose outside the Great Hall of the People after attending a plenary session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, Thursday, March 8, 2018. VOA

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the General Equality campaign is aimed at speeding systematic change “on the laws, policies and outdated mindsets that must no longer curtail women’s voice, choice and safety.”

UN Women’s deputy executive director, Asa Regner, said at the news conference that there have been positive results since Beijing. She pointed to a record number of girls in school, better access to health care, a decrease in maternal mortality, more women in top positions in the business world and fresh efforts to address violence against women and to put women at peace negotiating tables. But she said the biggest challenges are to change male-dominated “power structures” that leave far more women and girls facing poverty and violence.

Ahead of next year’s anniversary events, UN Women has asked all 193 U.N. member nations to submit details and data on what their countries have done to implement the 1995 Beijing platform, Regner said. As of Friday, she said, it had received 22 responses but hopes the entire membership will answer.

The Beijing platform called for bold actions in 12 critical areas for women and girls including combatting poverty and violence, improving human rights and access to reproductive and sexual health care, and ensuring that all girls get an education and that women are at the top levels of business and government, and the top table in peace negotiations.

Events leading up to next year’s anniversary include the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women’s annual meeting in March 2020 devoted to Beijing’s implementation, a high-level meeting when world leaders gather for the annual General Assembly session in September 2020, and a “Global Gender Equality Forum” co-hosted by France and Mexico in France bringing civil society representatives and activists of all ages together to look to the future. No date has been announced yet for that event.

gender equality
UN Women announced its new “Generation Equality: Realizing women’s rights for an equal future” at a news conference. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at Monday evening’s opening of an exhibition on women who were part of the Soviet Union’s military effort in World War II that “we will not achieve peace” or any of the U.N.’s development goals for 2030 “without the full and equal participation of women.”

“Yet we all know that there is still a stark imbalance of power around the world, and we are even seeing a backlash in some areas against women’s rights,” he said.

ALSO READ: Improving Fitness can Help You Cut Cancer Risk

Regner said the majority of countries favor progress on gender equality, but there is “pushback.” There are governments and movements, she said, that value “so-called traditional family values and other ideas around women’s and men’s roles both in families and in societies which do not correspond to international agreements, and which would not necessarily give women the space and possibility to decide over their own lives, bodies, economic empowerment, etc.”

Regner, a former Swedish minister, said UN Women’s task is to spur implementation of Beijing and other agreements – and “we will never back down.” (VOA)