By Cesareo Contreras
In honor of International National Women’s Day and the Day Without Women Strike, students, faculty and administrators participated in a campus-wide women’s rally and march on Wednesday, March 8.
The event was sponsored by the Health and Wellness Center and the Center for Inclusive Excellence (CIE).
Angelique Bouthot, an assistant educator in the Health and Wellness Center, was of one the march’s main organizers. During her remarks at the rally, she explained the history of International Women’s Day and the value of defending women’s rights.
“We are here to celebrate all the progress that we have made, and to resist those who stop us from moving forward,” she said.
Many of those in attendance wore red as a form of solidarity, and a few student leaders spoke out during the rally.
Senior and M.I.S.S. club officer Danielle Butler said the march “is a stand against the fact that women have to work twice as hard for our victories.”
She added, “This is why this exists. It is a place of sanctuary for women of color and our allies – where we have community, a place where we can breathe.”
Butler listed the names of seven trans-women of color who have been murdered since the start of 2017 and the names of women of color who had been murdered by police without due process.
“This is your day apart from the rest of year when we aren’t punished and condemned for being ourselves,” she said.
Bouthot said the first National Women’s Day occurred in 1909 and was meant to commemorate the 1908 garment worker strike. By 1911, the day had gone international and was used as a way for women to come together to vocalize against gender disparities in their respective countries, she said. This included fighting for universal suffrage, the right for women to hold office and the end of gender discrimination in the workplace.
“Each year, it is celebrated and utilized in different ways to improve the lives of women worldwide,” she said.
Bouthot said the same organizers who put on the Jan 21. Worldwide Women’s March planned the “#ADayWithoutWomen to show the economic power that women can wield, personally and professionally, and how we need to continue fighting for equality.”
Ilene Hofrenning, director of the Health Center, said women who participate in the women’s strike fight for equal pay and reproductive rights, and bring awareness to violence motivated by gender, race or sexual orientation. They also shed light on environmental issues, she said.
“The sign that I made says, ‘Women’s rights equal human rights,’” she said. “I think when we fight for women, we fight for the 99 percent. We fight for everybody to have a better life.”
The crowd marched from the McCarthy Center to the CIE, located on the third floor of the Whittemore Library.
As they made their way, they chanted such phrases as, “Women’s rights are human rights,” “This is what a feminist looks like” and “International Women’s Day, we will not go away.”
In the CIE, Bouthot led a discussion that focused on women’s rights and the nation’s social climate since the election.
Virginia Rutter, a sociology professor, said this International Women’s day was different than those in recent years since it followed shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
She said, “To use a euphemism, what the Framingham has happened to the concerns of wide- range issues around social justice? ... I thought that these gender questions were going to be something ... that would get better, but right now, we have so many different communities that are under threat, where their definition of being a woman – however defined – is making them more vulnerable.”
Sophomore Nicole Bray said believes more events such as this need to happen on campus, “especially since I feel like we are living in a world of anarchy.”
She added, “These rallies and these protests, the main focus is love, that we want love and equality for everybody.”
Senior Megan Peterson said she really enjoyed the rally and the discussion.
“It’s nice, especially after the election, to kind of get together and just talk about what is stressing us out, what we can do about it and kind of get different perspectives on the issues of women’s rights, the women’s movement, but also the intersectionality of the women’s movement that is trying to be made more clear,” she said.
Sophomore Stephanie Comigan said, “There aren’t a lot of opportunities for women to get their voices out, and I think that starting the discussion is a great thing to do.”