Women's March-The Orlando Times

The Orlando Times

Women's March

Thousands Of Orlando Women March Toward Equality


 

COMPILED BY JALESSA CASTILLO, TIMES STAFF WRITER

ORLANDO - Sunday January 21st marked the anniversary of women's marches around the world. The weekend of global demonstrations raised awareness for equality, justice and an end to sexual harassment.

These were in addition to various marches across the U.S. on Saturday, one year since President Donald Trump's inauguration. More than 200,000 protesters marched in New York and Los Angeles, with other states also drawing big crowds as well. Protesters also gathered on multiple continents, including in London, Paris, Sydney, Madrid and Buenos Aires, Argentina.

It is estimated that about 10,000 took to our streets right here in Orlando. Beginning at 11am near Lake Eola and lasting until 3pm, activists protested in support of women's rights.

The Orlando rally was a part of Women’s March Florida’s statewide “Day of Action”.

Attendees heard women’s passionate speeches which called for the restoration felon’s voting rights and environmental protection, as well as arguments in dependence of immigrants in the country on the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals Act, or DACA.

“The goal of the Women's March was to raise awareness and funds for our sister islands of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Florida Keys,” said Noelle Rivers, volunteer coordinator of the women’s march in Orlando. “Additionally, the march was also called Day of Action to not only raise women's voices and ensure our issues are addressed, but to encourage each attendee to be registered to vote and be prepared for November when we hope to elect more women to public office.”

Crowds of men and women toted various signs with messages that called for equality.

"I'm a feminist, I am a father of three daughters, I'm a grandfather of three granddaughters and I want them to have equal opportunity," Ken Wooden told WESH 2 News

The event was emceed by Anna Eskamani, a Democratic candidate for State House District 47.

“We march today for the women who get paid $.80 to the man’s $1,” said Nancy Soderberg, a former United Nations ambassador running for U.S. House District 6. “We march today to make sure women are 50 percent of the elected officials instead of 20 percent.”

In Florida, women currently make up only 25% of the legislature despite making up 50% of the population.

“Decisions about women's healthcare, education, pay inequality, childcare, and so much more are being made without true representation,” added Rivers. “Florida has the embarrassment of being one of the few remaining states that has not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment which would finally include women in the U.S. Constitution and help fight gender based discrimination. Obviously something that would be remedied by having more women sitting in Tallahassee.”

Organizers of the Orlando Day of Action note that it was a resounding success. With thousands of attendees and busy voter registration booths.

“Of course we were grateful to have so many people show up. But I don't know so much that they're supporting "the march" as people are looking for a way to show support for women,” she added. “The march was a set day and time for not just women, but for anyone to come, gather together, voice their outrage, and to walk away with a plan to do something about it. As Americans, we know that wars have been fought because of lack of representation. Women will continue to demonstrate, rally, protest, and march until we are represented and achieve true equality.”

The event was 100% organized and financed by volunteers and they insist that there are opportunities for everyone to get involved. Whether it's voter registration, food distribution, event planning, making phone calls, “you name it, so much can be done.”

The Women’s March Orlando Chapter Captain is Allison Matos. She works for a community based, non-profit nutrition resource center, tackling issues of food security and food justice through comprehensive nutrition education programming.

The Orlando Chapter Co-Captain is Lisa Santoni Cromar. This “proud Puerto Rican” notes her experience as a domestic violence victim’s advocate as the driving force for her passion for justice for all.

The principles of the chapter includes: ending violence, reproductive rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental justice

These demonstrations come at a time of reckoning for many men in Hollywood, politics and other industries as women speak out about sexual misconduct and inequity in general.

“As a disabled Puerto Rican women, I was honored to lead this year's March activity in the direction of increased accessibility. I was energized by the passionate testimony of the diverse group of strong women speaking on the topics that mattered most to them,” said Santoni Cromar. “I was humbled by the outflow of volunteer support from all corners of the community. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of this event. Last year, we marched. This year, we act.”

Those who took part in this year's events said they were spurred by the avalanche of political and gender issues over the past year, as well as the #MeToo movement, which has been credited with countering widespread sexual abuse and misconduct.

For more information or to donate visit https://www.womensmarchfl.org/orlando.html