A Step in the Right Direction: Women’s March comes to Tucson

Sofia Gerhart, Editorials Reporter

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It’s 9:30 in the morning at Armory Park on January 21st, and the sound of a woman’s voice over a megaphone can be heard above the 30mph winds as the normally quiet park fills in with protesters.

What started as a few huddled clusters scattered around the center of the park turned into a solid mass of rain slickers, umbrellas and protest signs by 10am, when the first speaker, Isabel Garcia, took the park’s stage to share her empowered thoughts on a woman’s ability to save the environment, open borders, and close the wage gap.

What ended up being a total of around 10,000 Tucsonans came out on Saturday to show their support for women’s rights as they marched alongside thousands of others worldwide participating in their respective town’s branch of the Women’s Solidarity March, all of which took place on the 21st of the month.

The march in Tucson catered to many demographics, drawing together members from every facet of Tucson’s community.

In the middle of the crowd at Armory Park, a young redheaded boy stood still in the middle of a group of energetic little redheaded girls, proudly displaying a sign covered in little arrows pointing outwards that read: “Don’t mess with my sisters!” in pink and purple glitter glue so that his dad could take his picture.

Next to that family, an elderly man held an umbrella above his wife while she took a picture of the crowd, and behind them, a group of girls in matching pink shirts with sorority letters on the back were pointing out their favorite signs.

Two were talking in low voices about how great this would all look on their snapchat story.

Included in the crowd were Megan Cota-Robles and Annika Wuelpern, both juniors at THMS.

“Women [and men] should have equal everything,” Wuelpern said of her reason for attending, and was excited for the opportunity to “get involved” in an issue that affects not only women in Tucson and the United states, but all over the world.

“I’ve never been to a march or a protest before, and I liked seeing people in the community come together”.

“The march was the most inspiring thing I’ve ever been a part of” says Cota-Robles, who marched in support of “the women in my life [who] I love and respect, as well as to protest [Donald Trump’s presidency]”, saying she was comforted by the “amount of equality and acceptance” shown by those in the march, giving her “hope that [protesters] could actually make a difference”.

As the march began to move on it’s route from Armory park to the Joel Valdez Main Library, the street became a solid, shoulder to shoulder mass of people, raising signs and starting chants, flying the American flag alongside the LGBTQ flag, which mixed together in the wind like they were two parts of a whole.

What impressed Cota-Robles most was that regardless of “…race, gender, sexual preference, or political opinion”, protesters were able to “fight [together] for a just cause”.

Above the umbrellas, a little girl was sitting on her father’s shoulders, waving a cardboard sign that said “Respect” in wide black letters. To me, this hit home. This is what I was marching for.

For the government to respect a woman is to acknowledge her ability: whether it be her ability to choose what she does with her body, or her ability to work as hard and as well as a man and be compensated accordingly.

To recognize women like my mother, who works a full time job on top of doing everything it takes to keep our family running smoothly, but who doesn’t qualify for tax deductibles allotted for families with children.

For young women, like my sister and cousins, who will someday enter the workforce as strong minded, capable women, I marched in hopes that they won’t suffer from the wage gaps we see today.

For children of the future, that they learn about sexism and racism as things of the past.

These are issues that don’t dissolve in a generation. But raising awareness and making a statement as a people marching united across the globe, is a historic step in the direction of change.

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