The Plaza in front of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque filled with people as the wind and snow died down just in time for the WORD rally. Together the people chanted and raised signs and banners calling for an end to violence against women.
The rally was led by Native activist and WORD organizer Bethany Woody. "Since the Europeans came here, Native women have lost their historic positions under the matriarchy as leaders and decision makers, all due to the brutal and genocidal influx of the European colonial ideas of patriarchy and racism. Still today, Native women suffer disproportionately from alcoholism, drug abuse, and sexual and domestic violence. That is why the struggle for women's rights must include the fight against colonialism, racism and imperialism. All of us need to unite to fight back and win."
Other speakers included Anna Peterpaul from ANSWER New Mexico; Sylvia Ramos and Zelda Gatuskin from the Feminist Caucus of the Humanist Society of New Mexico; Susan Shuurman, Coordinator of the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center; Danya Mustafy from Students for Justice in Palestine; the Raging Grannies; Charles Powell, Veterans for Peace; WORD organizer Gloria Reber; and many others.
In Chicago, WORD hosted an International Womens Day Forum. The meeting area was filled with women and our allies who came to hear presentations and engage in discussion about the state of the women's struggle today, and how we can all be a part of the growing movement to stop violence against women and demand equality and justice for poor and oppressed people.
The speakers represented many different areas in society, including students, health care workers, the LGBT community, authors and long-time organizers and activists. The discussion centered around what kind of women's movement is needed and how we can help in growing a fighting, militant, multinational movement,and how we must unite with all of the struggles of the oppressed in order to bring about women's liberation and eradicate poverty once and for all. The meeting ended with everyone excited about an upcoming WORD organizing and brainstorming session for future Chicago actions in the Spring and Summer.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of women gathered at the busy intersection of Hollywood and Vine in honor of International Women's Day to send a message about the recent attacks on women's rights and increasing sexual violence. Supporters came all the way from the San Fernando Valley, Orange County and the Inland Empire to join with WORD and allied organizations, including KmB Pro-People Youth, AF3IRM Los Angeles, the ANSWER Coalition and student organizations from all over southern California.
The opening rally captivated the participants with fiery speeches about the recent attacks against women and women’s rights, and the need for an organized, fighting women’s movement. Issues such as the financial sequester and the devastating cuts it will trigger to social programs for women and families were discussed.
WORD organizers spoke about the connection between the wars and occupations in the Middle East and how they affect women and their families, as well as the importance of solidarity with the women’s struggle in Latin America and the rest of the world.
Organizers with RAISE LA talked about the inhumane treatment of women service workers in Los Angeles and the extreme discrimination that undocumented women face.
A police brutality contingent composed primarily of family members of police brutality victims participated in the march and spoke about their experiences as mothers and daughters losing loved ones, and the devastating effect of police violence on women and families.
Following the rally, women and our allies marched up bustling Hollywood, Boulevard where all along the sidewalks people cheered as the marchers passed, chanting “Gay, straight, Black white; All unite for women's rights!"
The march closed with a speak-out at Hollywood and Highland, a popular destination for tourists. Onlookers cheered and raised their fists as the marchers approached. Final speakers reaffirmed the need to take the women's struggle to the streets and WORD organizers ended with a chant: "When women's rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, Fight back!"
Media coverage from Los Angeles: LAist CBS Los Angeles
WORD's demonstration in New Haven, Conn., drew a number of people from different areas of the state. It was clear at the action that the struggle for women's rights is not only alive and thriving – it has become more urgent. Protesters gathered to speak out against violence against women, which continues to be rampant and has escalated, while protective services for women have suffered budget cuts.
WORD organizers explained WORD's four demands, and then explained that attacks on women do not just happen in the streets and at home – they happen through the decisions made by politicians who will always place profits over protection for women. The crowd was appalled and angered to hear that rape is considered an occupational hazard in the military, and that the Violence Against Women Act was one of the first things on the cutting board in the sequestration.
A speaker from the ANSWER Coalition delivered a powerful statement of solidarity with WORD, describing the suffering of Indigenous women on reservations. Another statement of solidarity came from the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
The New Haven action brought a new understanding about the urgent need for militant organizing for equal rights to a diverse group of people. Several people signed up and eagerly requested that they be contacted to be included in organizing further actions. Lawyers, workers, homeless people, high school and college students, young and old, people of many races and nationalities, stood proudly under the New Haven WORD banner and chanted as one: “When women's rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, Fight back!”
Despite a snowstorm, 225 people — mostly students — attended a March 7 Rally to Defend Women’s Rights in the auditorium of the State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz.
The event was organized by the Hudson Valley Activist Newsletter in response to a nationwide call from Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD) to commemorate International Women’s Day by protesting violence against women and the increasing right-wing attack on women’s rights.
Some 55 organizations endorsed the event, from the New York Civil Liberties Union and many women’s, student and community groups, to the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation (AFL-CIO), Upper Hudson Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), SEIU Local 200 United, United University Professions (AFL-CIO, SUNY NP chapter), and Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW-AFL-CIO).
According to SUNY UUP delegate Donna Goodman, the main organizer of the event, the snowstorm cut anticipated attendance by over half, “but it turned out to be a great evening.” She told the crowd that “we are in the process of organizing a WORD chapter in New Paltz to serve the Mid-Hudson region.”
Speakers at the rally included Gwen Wright, Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence; Rickie Solinger, historian and writer of four books about reproductive justice; Kerbie Joseph, of New York City WORD and a member of the PSL, who discussed the plight of poor women; Beth Soto, Executive Director of the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, who noted that the local unions were preparing a May Day rally; and Goodman, who is also a vice president of the Area Labor Federation and an editor of the Activist Newsletter.
In her speech, Goodman said: “Social, economic and political conditions in the United States today suggest it is time for a revival of the mass movement to defend and extend women’s rights. The beginnings are visible; the causes are obvious. At issue is whether these beginnings will burgeon into a powerful, independent movement to beat back the conservative attack and push forward the agenda for women’s rights beyond the great advances by our sisters some decades ago.
“History has demonstrated that women have made their maximum gains only through struggle…. While we must continue and accelerate the fight to stop violence against women, to defend reproductive justice, and demand full equality for women workers, there are other issues as well that command our attention in this conservative era. Why shouldn’t a new women’s upsurge fight for substantial social programs, fight for poor women, fight for peace, environmental sanity, and union rights? These, too, are women’s issues….”
Media coverage from New Paltz: MidHudson News
New York City
On March 9 in New York City, hundreds of women and their allies from across the city joined together to rally, march and chant to demonstrate a strong unification against a violent patriarchal system.
The rally was chaired by WORD and Damayan organizer Riya Ortiz. The opening rally advocated for a feminist and anti-imperialist movement, which included speakers and spoken word artists, including Angy from the New York State Leadership Council, Kristen Jordan from WORD, Rev. Claudia De La Cruz from Da Urban Butterflies, Sasha Ahuja from Planned Parenthood, and Charina Nadura from Ugnayan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Linking the Children of the Motherland).
Presenting a militant, multinational showing, WORD led a march from Washington Square Park to the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire where Juana Dwyer, the Deputy Chairperson of Damayan Migrant Workers Association moved the crowd with her description of the Filipina domestic workers’ experience in New York City, followed by Liz Guerra, Director of Community Mobilization at the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.
In an animated march that spread across several blocks, the demonstration made its way over to the Stonewall Inn, the site of the Stonewall rebellion that spurred the modern-day LGBT liberation movement in 1969. Chants of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, transphobia has got to go,” caught the attention and support of many bystanders. Brittany, a spoken word artist from African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change (AALUSC), performed a piece and then Jennine Ventura, chairperson of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment-GABRIELA USA spoke about the economic violence women experience on a global scale.
Returning to Washington Square Park for the closing rally, the militancy and multinational character became more evident as speakers’ talks became intermingled with chants in Filipino, Hindu and Spanish. Among the many powerful speakers were Cassie Regan from the ANSWER Coalition, Brenda Stokley from the International Working Women’s Day Coalition 2013, Lauren Kellner from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, spoken word artist Tania Romero, Jocelyn Gay from Haiti Liberté, and Sadia Reza from Women's Rights and Development for Bangladesh.
WORD organizer Johanna Ocaña encompassed the spirit of the demonstration at the closing rally: “We know nothing with be handed to us! Together, we can rise up!”
WORD Sacramento marched from Southside Park to the West Steps of the California State Capitol Building on March 8 to demand an end to violence against women. "When women's rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" could loudly be heard along 10th Street as onlookers came out of businesses along the route and people honked as the march passed. The marchers chanted with excitement and conviction, demanding respect and equality.
There were over 100 people who assembled for a rally at the California State Capitol Building where WORD organizers discussed issues of physical and economic violence, how militarization in society causes domestic violence, and women taking action for women's equality. Women who attended the march spoke with WORD members during the rally and showed interested in rebuilding a woman's movement.
Local organizations participated helping to raise awareness about violence against women and marched alongside WORD, including members from Mujeres Ayudando la Raza, W.E.A.V.E. - Women Escaping A Violent Environment, Women's Health Specialists of California, MEChA de Sacramento State University, MEChA de Consumnes River College, Sacramento Native American Health Center, McGeorge Town School of Law-Victims of Crime Resource Center, California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, Gender Health Center of Sacramento, the Party for Socialism and Liberation and Idle No More.
In San Diego, WORD supported two events held for International Women’s Day.
On March 7, ANSWER San Diego held a protest outside of a crisis pregnancy center called College Area Pregnancy Services in observance of International Women’s Day. These centers pose as women’s health clinics while lying to women about the health risks involved with getting an abortion, such as telling them that if they have an abortion they will become infertile or get breast cancer in order to dissuade women from having an abortion.
ANSWER SD organized this event to make the community aware of what is happening at this deceptively named “clinic.” Activists who have been involved with ANSWER now plan to launch a chapter of WORD.
Many activists and members of local progressive organizations, including Canvass for a Cause and Visionary Feminists, attended the protest. ANSWER members entered nearby businesses and gave the patrons and owners information about who their neighbors really are. There was a very positive response from people on the street and in their vehicles. The demonstrators chanted slogans like “Abortion is healthcare, healthcare is a right!” and “Hey hey, ho ho, this fake clinic has got to go!” This was an important action that served to educate the community, which includes a population of students who are targeted with the lies of these centers. Wherever there are attacks on women’s rights, we will be there to fight back!
On March 10, over 150 people came together to celebrate the First Annual International Women’s Day at the Centro Cultural de la Raza. The event was organized by a diverse group of people to raise awareness about the plight of women in the 21st Century. Workshops were held discussing the struggle for the transgender community and several other topics. Panelists spoke on the struggle for Palestinian women both here and abroad. Others spoke on the immigrant struggle here in the United States and what Filipinas face in resisting U.S. imperialism.
The evening ended with poetry and music by local female artist. Overall, the evening was a great success and the organizers look forward to putting this type of celebration together annually.
Some of the groups involved included the dance group Mujeres en Resistencia dancing zapateado, Saboteur’s Kitchen – a worker owned collective seeking to open a healthy food alternative to those in underserved communities, WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend), ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism), Party for Socialism & Liberation (PSL), Centro Cultural de la Raza and many other individuals from the community.
In San Francisco, the International Women’s Day rally kicked off at noon in Dolores Park. Several hundred participants listened to rousing speeches from activists with WORD, the ANSWER Coalition, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, the FMLN, Coalition on Homelessness, City College and BABAE. They listened to solidarity statements read on behalf of civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart and Jerralyn Blueford, police brutality activist and mother of Alan Blueford who was murdered by OPD last May. Between speakers, chants of “Whatever we wear, wherever we go; Yes means yes and no means no!” and “Gay, straight, black, brown, white; All unite for women’s rights!” could be heard throughout the park.
As the rally ended participants took their energy to the streets a very vibrant march, chanting: “Why the ruckus, why the trouble? A woman’s place is in the struggle!” As the march proceeded down 18th Street it stopped in front of the Women’s Building to recognize the support it provides to the community. Demonstrators were met by a group of artists who had just finished restoring the beautiful mural that covers the building. One of the artists asked for the microphone and gave her very heartfelt thanks to all the women who came out to march for women’s rights. As the march continued through the heart of the Mission District, chants of “Se Ve! Se escucha! Mujeres en la lucha!” and Mujaras unidas; jamas sera vencidas!” were met with car horns honking and cheers of support from the community.
WORD San Francisco is proud to have participated in this national call to action and inspired by the support we received. We know that this is one of many steps forward in our struggle for equality and justice and we will not stop until we win.
Media coverage from San Francisco: Mission Local
On March 8, people gathered in downtown Syracuse to rally for women's rights. Students from Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and members of many different communities in Syracuse came out in support of WORD and International Women's Day.
WORD organizer Erin Kinsey kicked off the event with an introduction and invited those gathered to find someone around them that they don't know and share why they came. After a brief period of mingling, WORD organizer Maddie Horrell led chants and gave a talk about the history of the movement, starting with the first International Women's Day and connecting it to the recent events in India and Steubenville, Ohio, as well as recent incidences of police violence in Syracuse.
Next, Rebecca Fuentes spoke about migrant women's rights, and brought Arely Orozco, an undocumented Syracuse woman, to stand with her. Orozco was detained in January after being pulled over for having an expired registration. (Read more about Arely's story and sign the petition!)
To close, Nikeeta Slade spoke, giving a passionate speech about transphobia and transmisogyny, emphasizing the importance of including trans rights in the struggle for women's rights.
Press coverage included the Syracuse Post-Standard, WSYR Channel 9 news, the SU Daily Orange, and the SU Newhouse Communications Center.
In Washington, D.C., organizers, community members and youth activists gathered to demand an end to violence against women, an end to the nationwide attacks against women’s rights, and celebrate International Women’s Day.
The rally specifically denounced the D.C. Metro Police Department for their complicity with rapists and domestic abusers. Recent reports have exposed the DCMPD’s intentional failure to file hundreds of reports in cases of assault – amounting to more than one third of all sexual assault cases referred to the MPD by the Washington Hospital Center. None of these cases were investigated or prosecuted, and it is estimated that hundreds more such reports were lost entirely.
The demonstration took place in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, a predominantly working-class and historically Latino community. Women and men, many accompanied by their children, joined the action to protest and share stories of the injustices they’ve either experienced themselves or witnessed amongst the women in their lives.
WORD invited attendees and passers-by to participate in the speak-out. Many explained why they decided to join the action. One new WORD member, Tihanee, who heard about the speak-out online, explained in Spanish: “I joined today’s rally because the women’s struggle is not over!” Other passers-by began new chants, such as “We will not be raped no more, end the war on the poor!”
Caneisha Mills of WORD DC led chants and spoke out for liberation of all women from violence, including women denied access to health care and treatment for abuse. Many new WORD members made posters explaining why they are “speaking out” and spread them through social networks. Nicholas Powell of the Party for Socialism and Liberation gave a solidarity statement, explaining that mass incarceration and exploitation of working and poor women are forms of violence.
One woman, who happened upon the event while on her way to the grocery store, was brought to tears by activists chanting “Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes, and no means no!” and shared the story of her own experiences as a rape victim and being accused of “wanting it” by the judge in court. Empowered by the camaraderie of the activists around her, she picked up a sign and joined us in the demand that the situation facing women around the globe be ignored no longer!
Media coverage from Washington, D.C.: WJLA ABC 7
Additional media coverage:
Examiner.com NZ week Global Times