10,000 people rallied in support Women’s Rights in Bellingham

Aydan Garland-Miner, Editor in Chief

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On January 21 approximately five million people all over the world marched in support of women’s rights and equality. There were 673 marches in the United States and a variety of other countries including India, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Greece, and Kenya. There were also marches held locally in both Mount Vernon and Bellingham, Wash. The march in Bellingham drew the largest population of people in the area, at around ten thousand. “Lt. Bill Slodysko, a Bellingham police department veteran said it was the largest march he had ever seen.”

 

I attended the march with my parents, and closest friend. We arrived forty-five minutes before the march was set to begin. We made our way through thick crowds of people towards the white tents to decorate posters, and obtain two “pussy hats.”

 

The word “pussy” would usually be regarded as crude and disrespectful, but when women marchers began the “Pussy Hat Project,” it adopted a new meaning. Women all over the United States gathered before the event to knit pink hats resembling a feline’s head in order to “reclaim the term as a means of empowerment,” after Donald Trump used the word in an inappropriate fashion in a taped conversation on the set of “Days of our lives.”

 

According to the website, the mission of the Pussy Hat Project was to “Provide the people of the Women’s March on Washington D.C a means to make a unique collective visual statement which will help activists be heard.” As well as “Provide people who cannot physically be on the National Mall a way to represent themselves and women’s rights.”

 

The hats also served as a strategy to make connections between fellow marchers. Oftentimes, the makers of the hats sent them to other people who were planning on marching. A note was to be included with each hat. “Dear wearer of this hat, this hat is made by (name), from (city), and (state). A women’s issue I care about is… If you want to give the wearer an opportunity to respond, please put your contact info here..”

 

If one chose to, one could register their hat on the website and then could track which state it traveled to.  

 

Although there are no marches planned for the future, the organizers have taken the Women’s March as originally one single event and forged it into an entire movement.

“Ten actions, one hundred days,” was released shortly after the march. The first action enlisting marchers to write a postcard to their representative senator about which issue matters most to them, and how they plan to fight for their rights in the future. It was suggested that marchers gather to have “post card writing parties.”

 

The second action was a “huddle,” in which marchers gathered to discuss future actions. The agenda was posted on the website and was as follows: “Watch the provided video, each person is to envision what winning the next four years would look like, the group should discuss upcoming action opportunities, decide on next steps, and close with an action.”

 

The third action is the “Hear our voice” events. The meetings will be attended by members of congress and state elected officials. For example, in Issaquah, Washington Dave Reichert will be holding a rally on Thursday, February 23rd. This action is supposed to gain the attention and respect of important people in our government, specifically ones designated as state elected representatives.

 

In waiting for the next action to be released, “A day without a woman” was announced and set to occur on March 8, International Women’s Day. This action will specifically target businesses in asking questions such as “Do they strive for gender equality or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?” This action asks women to abstain from going to work, or using any services that do not fully support gender equality.

 

The action has not come to a halt in local areas either. The organizers of the Women’s March in Bellingham “are running a small Facebook group to continue focusing on 10 actions.” said Towhee Wean, the volunteer coordinator of the march in Bellingham

 

As one can imagine, putting on such a large event takes a lot of dedicated people. When Bellingham Resident Liz, heard that the the National Women’s March that was set to take place in Washington D.C, she contacted the state chapter to set up an event in Bellingham. She put out a call for volunteers on Facebook and Towhee Wean was one of the seven women who responded. The women began planning before Thanksgiving and started meeting one to two times per week. Each woman had a specific job to focus on, and the number of volunteers quickly grew from seven to one hundred.

 

“As for the purpose of the march I think it was slightly different for everyone. Some people had a particular thing like Planned Parenthood, immigrants rights or environmental concerns, but I think there was an overarching message.” said Towhee Wean

 

Marchers are continuing to take action. Either in the form of speaking with each other, speaking out to their elected officials, or sharing information with the public through social media.

If you are interested in getting involved and supporting women’s rights actively, you can start off by visiting the Women’s March website to read up on their mission and how they suggest we take action in the future.  https://www.womensmarch.com/

 

The National Organization for Women also has a chapter in Seattle. ‘NOW’ was founded 39 years ago in 1970. “The founders’ intent was to work “peacefully and within the system, through the courts, through all of the constitutional means available to effect the changes that our system has channels for.” The organization has specific legislative priorities, and has established and started a variety of projects including the Seattle Women’s Commision, Washington Women’s Political Caucus, organized a coalition which established the “Womentor” project, work with Amazon.com to stop advertising “women-hating” video games, they were a sponsor of the Washington State equal rights amendment which was ratified by our legislature, and in 2007 they helped host the Women of Color and Allies Summit (WOCA).

 

You can visit the NOW seattle chapter website here to take action: http://nowseattle.org/action-alert/

 

If you are a teen who wants to get involved with other youth, consider contacting the people at FRIDA, the Young Feminist Fund. ‘FRIDA’ “is the only youth-led fund that is dedicated to strengthening the participation and leadership of young feminist activists globally.”  http://youngfeministfund.org/donate-your-time-and-skills/
Feminists specifically have been organized and fighting for Women’s rights issues since 1848 when the first Women’s conference occurred in Senaca Falls. The recent presidential election has elicited fear from certain interest groups and people regarding their liberties, hence the ramping up in protests, marches, and rallies all over the world.  Whether the momentum will be kept up, we shall see. Regardless, the Women’s March sent a message to millions of people, and now has the ability to make some serious strides towards gender equality.

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10,000 people rallied in support Women’s Rights in Bellingham