In the 1960s, a newly married, well-educated young woman walked into a furniture store in the heart of Chicago hoping to open a credit account and buy a couch to help furnish her and her husband’s new home. The employee who served her vehemently refused the woman credit, but he told her that, if she came back with her husband, he would gladly grant it.
Andra Atteberry, a 74-year-old advocate at the Fayetteville Women’s March, said, “My husband was in school and didn’t have a job. I had a job. My husband could get credit. I couldn’t get credit. That’s sexism at its worst. That was the eye-opener for me.”
This experience from her youth and many other such experiences throughout her journey inspired Atteberry to march for young women of the world so they would not have to experience the oppression she did, and so, in the future, people will judge women and their abilities by the contents of their heads and hearts. Sexism is not limited merely to women in the 1900s and continues to this day across races, borders and ages. Serbian immigrant Kosana Suvocarev spoke of her experience growing up in a sexist country. Suvocarev said “It’s absurd how women are treated. Unfortunately, this is lasting for many years. It’s so sad that we still have to attack the same issues. I think women have a lot of reasons to be on the streets and use their privilege to support other women.”
Suvocarev grew up in a sexist environment and got her Ph.D. in Spain, also a very sexist country. Suvocarev lamented and said, “I have serious brain damage from where I grew up. It’s here, too. It’s not allowed to be said in public, but still, it’s present.”
On Saturday Jan. 20, older women, middle aged women, young women, women of different colors and ethnicities, and queer women alike gathered in a sea of pink, posters, and poll-hijacking dreams to participate in Women’s Marches around the globe.
Last year marked the first annual Women’s March for many cities around the globe, and it was one of the largest protests in history, attracting over 3 million people worldwide, according to The Washington Post.
Though last year’s march was widely successful and raised awareness for the continued fight for women’s rights. Yet, many people questioned whether marginalized individuals were represented or given a voice.
This year, women’s marches across the world largely focused on two goals: First, create a safe space for women of color to speak into the issue of equal rights. Second, vote more women into governmental positions of power so women’s voices are represented and have a seat at the table.
The Fayetteville Women’s March was no exception.
Assistant March Organizer Blanca Estevez said, “Our women’s march this year was centered around women of color because we are often left aside, not invited to the table, and, really, we wanted to change that. We did not have a white woman speak because we hear white women’s voices every day, all around us. We hardly ever hear women of color coming up and reclaiming their rights.”
Senior JBU nursing major Rebecca Baugher was impressed with the emphasis on diversity and the
atmosphere of unity at the march. Baugher said, “It honestly felt like a big group of women supporting each other and cheering each other on. It was a super
fun environment, and I felt very loved and comfortable there.”
“I care about women and about minorities. The platform of the Women’s March gives voice to a lot of women and a lot of intersectionality: to women of color, to women with disabilities, immigrant women, women who are undocumented, trans women, queer women, and that was very important to me to have platforms to give these women voices,” Baugher said.
Additionally, the importance of presence in the polls resonated with women all over the globe and was a widely discussed topic at many women’s marches.
389 women are running for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. Additionally, 49 women are running for U.S. Senate and 79 women are running for governor, which is the largest surge in history of women running for office.
“There is no women representation. Our population density is not only out of control, but it is 51 percent
women, but that is not reflected in any government except, what, Canada and Germany? I want more,” male Women’s Rights advocate Beshanye Jackson said at the Fayetteville Women’s March.
While events like The Women’s March draw attention and awareness to the continued issue and importanceof equal rights, advocacy during the daily grind is crucial to the success of a movement.
When asked what women and men alike can do to advocate during their day to day lives, Atteberry said, “You can speak up when it’s time to speak up. Sometimes its hard. Be aware of what’s going on, volunteer for campaigns. Different ages listening to each other [is also] fantastic.”
“Start learning. Read the news, educate yourself on what’s happening to people everywhere,” Estevez said.
Baugher said, “Part of it is who is near you. At JBU, we live in a pretty white community, so finding ways to be involved in groups that take you outside of JBU, like Students for Refugees or Ability Tree which advocates for people with disabilities. It’s really important to give those people visibility because they don’t have a lot of visibility.
Baugher also said, “I really care a lot about LGBT people, so making it known that you are a safe space through social media or stickers on your water bottle. It’s a really powerful thing making it known you are a safe person and to follow through with that.”
“Challenge your parents. There is a generational gap between the baby boomers and millennials. We need to show them the clear representation of how things are supposed to be done. I can speak for millennials when I say that we grew up in a situation where we did not see how things were supposed to be done, and we still carry a lot of the emotional and infrastructural based biases of that generation. We gotta get over it,” Jackson said.