Nationwide Protests to Defend Women’s Rights
Reports from the October 16-22 National Week of Action
TONIGHT: Protest at the final presidential debate
in Boca Raton, Florida!
|Kicking off the Week of Action outside
Hofstra University in N.Y., Oct. 16
Across the country, women and their allies have been taking to the streets during the National Week of Action to Defend Women’s Rights organized by WORD (Women Organized to Resist and Defend). As Mitt Romney and President Obama scramble to win women’s votes and avoid offering real solutions to the issues women grapple with on a daily basis, women and their supporters rallied in the streets to say “Women’s rights are not up for debate!”
While all eyes are on the presidential election and debates, we are speaking out and demanding attention to women’s issues, including healthcare and reproductive rights, equality in the workplace, and budget cuts to needed services.
WORD New York City kicked off the Week of Action with a spirited protest on Oct. 16 outside the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.
This week, local organizers coordinated lively demonstrations in San Francisco, Chicago, New Haven and Los Angeles. The Week of Action will conclude with a protest outside the presidential debate in Boca Raton taking place tonight.
|Rally and speak out in San Francisco, Oct. 19|
In San Francisco on Oct. 19, as hundreds of commuters and tourists passed, dozens of people rallied at Powell and Market. The plaza where Powell and Market intersect reverberated with chants like “Won’t go back, we won’t wait, women’s rights not up for debate!” and “They say get back, we say fight back!” that drew the attention of many more people who stopped to listen. They heard the voices of high school, university and elementary teachers; mothers; a domestic violence counselor; and other women speaking out against racism and bigotry, and demanding full reproductive rights, equal pay, an end to the budget cuts and full equality. Representatives of several other women's organizations also addressed the crowd.
This speak out was a follow-up to a community march of hundreds on Aug.26—just prior to the Republican and Democratic National Conventions—which demanded an end to the increasing attacks on women’s rights. WORD has been in the streets during the entire election season, from the conventions to the debates. Women at the rally vowed to hold all politicians accountable so that no Republican or Democrat can feel secure using women’s rights as a bargaining chip or denying us full equality and full access to health care. Risa Cantu C'DeBaca encapsulated the mood of the speak out when she said: “Women’s rights will no longer be under attack if we join together and fight!”
|Countering anti-women rally in Chicago|
On Oct. 20 in Chicago, a spirited and militant group of women and their allies held a counter protest against an anti-woman, anti-choice rally. WORD joined other groups, including Illinois Choice Action Team, to let the right-wing bigots and racists know that we would not allow them to rally without opposition from a loud and vibrant showing of people
fighting for equality and reproductive rights. WORD volunteers held up a banner that read “Stop the War on Women’s Rights” along with placards that read “No Politician Gave Us Our Rights -- We Took Them.” Pro-women protesters loudly chanted “You say no choice, we say pro-choice” and “Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate.” Many passers-by agreed with the message and expressed thanks to the group for being in the streets. Several women joined the demonstration and took the WORD pledge to give to legislators.
In New Haven on Oct. 20, women and their allies rallied on the corner of College and Chapel Streets in downtown New Haven to protest attacks from politicians against women’s rights and budget cuts. Several passers-by joined the demonstration and cars honked their horns in a show of support.
Deb Malatesta, an organizer with WORD Connecticut, spoke to the crowd of demonstrators about the recent budget cuts to the state-funded Cornell Scott Hill Health Center, which will restrict women’s access to physical and mental health care.
|Women and allies rally in
New Haven, Conn., Oct. 20
She told the crowd, “Our rights will never be given to us by the politicians, we need to fight for them!”
Demonstrators chanted, “When women’s rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back.” Many local groups joined and supported the action.
On Oct. 20 in Los Angeles, women gathered near the busy intersection at Wilshire and Western to rally and speak out against the attacks on women's rights. A banner reading “Defend Women's Rights - We won't go back, we will fight back!" raised on the bustling corner drew in many supporting honks and cheers from nearby traffic. Students and young people saw the banner from the sidewalk and joined in, chanting “Stop your hatred, stop your violence! Pro-choice women won’t be silent!” and holding up placards that read “Women’s Rights Are Not Up for Debate!” and “Fight Back! End the War on Women!”
After protesters chanted "A women's place is in the struggle!" organizers led a speak out. WORD organizers, as well as representatives from other organizations including AF3IRM LA, spoke about the recent attacks on women’s rights and the need for a new, fighting women’s movement. Yohana Deleon, an organizer with WORD LA, spoke about recent remarks from Republican candidate Mitt Romney and the struggle for equal pay: "Obama gives us hope that becomes just dreams. Romney promises nightmares that could become real. We are not in your binder, not cooking lunch or dinner. We are here in this struggle fighting for our rights!"
|Chanting at the Oct. 20 rally in Los Angeles|
The spirited rally ended with a diverse crowd of young women and supporters denouncing the anti-women rhetoric that has been spread in the media and encouraging the crowd to get involved in the struggle to defend women's rights.
TONIGHT: Protest in Boca Raton, Florida
The National Week of Action to Defend Women's Rights concludes tonight outside the last presidential debate, in Boca Raton, Florida. Gather at 7:00 pm at the "Peace Corner" on Glades Road and St. Andrews Blvd. March to Lynn University, the site of the debate. View the flyer. View the Facebook Event.
Stay involved in the movement to defend women's rights!
Stay involved with WORD as we continue to build a new, fighting movement to defend women's rights.
WORD relies on donations to continue this important work. Please make a donation to support our efforts.