By Esteban Ramirez
Senior Staff Writer
From New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles and to even Bakersfield, marches were held to show solidarity with women across the nation Wednesday, March 8.
Rallies and “A Day without a Woman” marches were held throughout cities in the United States for International Women’s Day.
As CSU Bakersfield celebrated International Women’s Day with a panel discussion in the Stockdale Room, a march was held in downtown Bakersfield. Over 40 people marched from the Planned Parenthood Bakersfield Health Center on 16th Street to the Kern County Democratic Party Headquarters on Truxtun Avenue.
Marchers took an absence from work to support the cause and bring attention to inequalities women face.
“It is important to bring awareness to the administration that isn’t taking care of us, and teach my daughter that this is how you get things done,” said accountant Leann Avila, 23, who marched with her daughter Anaiah. “Women need to stand together. They shouldn’t be putting up with being paid less, they shouldn’t be putting up with misogynistic, they shouldn’t be putting up with feeling like they are less.”
Organizer Maria Stalcup said they wanted to show the public that women are necessary to the work force and for society to function.
“Removing ourselves from the work day was a protest against unfair treatment and pay,” said Stalcup. “We wore red to signify solidarity with women all over the world, especially those who couldn’t strike. We wanted to show the community that we stand together in support of one another.”
Women, men and even kids held signs and wore red to show unity as they walked down the streets of downtown Bakersfield.
Two of the marchers were Sloan Holmes and her husband Bill Jones. Holmes is a former health teacher and received her credential at CSUB.
“In some countries, women have no rights and in the United States we’ve had to fight very hard for the right that we do have,” said Holmes. “In 2017, still having to fight for some of these rights seems so archaic for the United States.”
One of the many reasons for the march was to show support for Planned Parenthood, which has been threatened of being defunded.
Jones said the march was important to support women and their right for good health care.
“We are walking for our granddaughters and our mothers; obviously, for my wife but also for my daughter and my daughter-in-law,” he said. “I think it’s just a basic right for women. It’s all about fairness and equality, and women deserve tremendous health care. Regardless of their age, their income, their marital status, women deserve great health care.”
Holmes said she hopes the message is about equality.
“Women are important in our society,” said Holmes. “Not more important, not less important. They are equals.”
Stalcup spoke to the group before they marched to the Kern County Democratic Party Headquarters, where they wrote postcards to President Donald Trump, state senators and representatives.
“The theme of the postcards were the issues that are meaningful to the marchers who were mostly women,” said Stalcup. “We wrote to them about our concerns over health care reform, workplace equality and human rights.”
CSUB alumna and participant Vanessa Wescott, 33, said the march was a reminder that she is a part of something bigger than herself.
“I think in this particular time in history, it’s going to be something they talk about in the history books,” said Wescott. “When my children are older, I want to be able to tell them when they ask me what was it like and what did I do, that I was a part of it and we were out there making a difference.”
Valeria Houghton, 23, graduated from CSUB in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in history. Houghton said she hopes the message from this march will be to unify Kern County.
“The community needs to realize that we are all in this together. As cheesy as that may sound, we really are,” Houghton said. “We are in for a very rough few years… whatever happens the fact that this racism, this phobia and all these isms, and the fact that they are up in the air now means we have to deal with them.”
Avila added they will not stop protesting until things change.
“It’s scary that we are living in these times where you just don’t feel like you matter,” she said. “Really, after all these years, women still have to protest for their rights? If we do, I will protest, my daughter will protest and her daughters will protest.”