A year ago, nearly half a million people took to the streets across the U.S. to take a stand for women’s rights. One year later, women are still fighting and protesting with the vigor and determination.
The women are not going to go down without a fight, and the numbers supporting this cause are only growing as time goes on. According to the Washington Post, an estimated 5.2 million people ventured out into the cold January streets to protest – nearly 2 million people more than the 2017 march.
As more people take a stand in the many issues and neglect of women’s rights around the world, ranging from the issues of equal pay, to underrepresentation in politics, to just flat out abuse, women are speaking out and spreading awareness in various ways.
A group known as the “FemFour” is making its mark in history and helping to empower women through their traveling exhibit, “Still They Persist: Protest Art of the 2017 Women’s Marches.”
For the months of February and March, Salisbury University has been selected as the location for this monumental exhibit.
The exhibit is filled with posters, placards, sculptures, textiles and photos. The artists of these portrayals of protest were advocates who participated in the D.C. event and “sister marches” throughout the U.S.
The items are curated from local archives, as well as the collection of “FemFour” founder and philanthropist Sarah Vance Waddell, who originally collected them for her personal home gallery.
In the spirit of the awareness of women’s rights making its mark on Salisbury, some SU students ventured out to marches near and far to raise awareness and have their voices heard.
Sophomores Allie Compere and Allie Soel took to the streets of Ocean City in an effort to come together with the community in support of equality amongst all people.
“When we stand up for women, we are standing up for all groups that are marginalized and consistently shut down,” both said. “We hope to live in a world where our daughters can grow up without having to say “Me Too” and they can be treated the same as their brothers.”
Sophomore Sarah Clark went beyond the borders of Salisbury to New York City in order to stand up for what she believes to be right.
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Sophomore Sarah Clark holds sign in NYC. Brenda Clark image.
“I attended the march to protest the fact that women are not being given the same equal opportunities as men, such as the pay gap and for all the women that had to say ‘me too,’” Clark said. “I marched to show that I stand in solidarity with all women, and all humans for that matter, no matter their gender, race or nationality.”
“I think these issues are important because Donald Trump’s presidency is dividing the nation and undoing all of the work that the country has done to get to where we are today. In order to be a peaceful country that is continually advancing we need to stand together and stand up for one another.”
Members of our student body are not the only ones taking action toward the injustice. Dr. Elsie Walker, associate professor, film studies editor, and chair of our very first Women’s Forum here at SU, is extremely passionate about the issues surrounding women’s equality.
Dr. Walker has attended several marches and spoken out about personal experiences surrounding her and defining her as a woman. She explains that she still feels as though she should do more because she said every action is significant.
One of the most eye-opening experiences that Walker found to be a monumental moment in her life was that of the inaugural women’s march in D.C.
Given that the crowd was reaching three million people, Walker was too far back to hear the speakers. However, this did not take away from what she described to be an extraordinary event.
“The experience was much more about simply being in a crowd united by a common belief in the value of equality,” Walker said. “And being encircled by people who felt it was important enough to stand out in the cold for hours, without any payment, without any predictability about how long everything would last or when the march would even begin.”
“I feel sorry for anyone who wasn’t there but I feel excited about the fact that something huge is happening every year, and some sort of efforts and numbers are growing with each event.”
On the subject of the progress being made on this worldwide issue, Walker said she feels a tremendous degree of hope about where everything is going as far as women’s rights, but emphasizes the fact that there is still, in her opinion, a lot of work to do.
When asked what piece of advice she would give to girls in fighting this evil that is inequality of gender, Walker recalled words of her mother who recently passed away, who she described as one of the strongest feminists she will ever know.
“She would say ‘Remember to breathe.’ There are moments of frustration for everyone, and any person who suffers from prejudice and issues of equality, or feelings of being judged. So just being able to breathe through that kind of moment is important,” Walker said.
Walker went on to reveal an additional piece of advice passed down from her mother that she hopes to inspire other women with.
“She would always say ‘walk your talk’ which can sound like a cliché but actually doing it — putting your ideals into practice can be really difficult,” Walker explained. “You can hold your head up high, stand your ground and know that you stood true to what you believe.”
In an effort to be inspired and moved by other women’s voices and throughout the world, anyone is invited to go and view the artwork of a series of women who took a stand against gender inequality displayed in the “Still They Persist Exhibit.”
Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Saturday.
By CAROLINE STREETT
Featured photo: “Still They Persist: Protest Art of the 2017 Women’s Marches” makes its way to SU in hopes to empower women through the traveling exhibit (Caroline Streett image).