/Women’s march, with a more diverse speaker lineup, rallies for ‘power to the polls’

Women’s march, with a more diverse speaker lineup, rallies for ‘power to the polls’

The organizers stated that the event was one of many similar marches and rallies in cities around the U.S. and the globe. It aimed to empower people from diverse backgrounds to discuss a broad range of issues and increase grassroots political participation. In 2017, the first Women’s March was held. In 2017, thousands marched in Jackson for equal rights and a better standard of living. Around 500 people carried signs and wore Tshirts supporting political causes including LGBTQ and immigrant rights. Talamieka Birice, one of the organizers, stated that despite drawing a smaller crowd than 2017, the Mississippi Women’s March showed that the movement is still evolving. Brice stated that the march’s purpose was to protest the policies of President Donald Trump. She said that women can now celebrate the achievements of the women’s movement this year. Brice stated, “Everything we were afraid of last year on this day, these policies were presented.” But the resistance, the pushback, was the rallying cry. The last year was all about, “Oh my God, what’s the next step?” We must do something. This year, it’s “This is what I did.” It’s working. It’s working. There were 10 speakers, including women from Muslim, LGBTQ, journalist, and other backgrounds. The organizers felt this was crucial, given that Mississippi was ranked the worst state for women by WalletHub in a 2017 study. This was based on factors such as median wages for female workers, unemployment rates, percentages in poverty, and percentages in women-owned businesses. Annie Reiher, Indivisible Jackson Metro’s organizer, said that there are many things that could improve women’s lives, including a higher minimum wage and an improved education system. “They’re not necessarily things which scream, “women’s problems.” Reiher was at the national Women’s March in Washington D.C. last year with her mother, but she felt it important to participate in the march in her state this year. Although President Trump’s inauguration was a catalyst for people attending rallies like this last year, it will be more difficult to get people involved in the political process in 2017 with mid-term elections coming up. Reiher stated, “It’s important that we see people who look like them in this process when we’re discussing Jackson.” We tried to make the event as representative of the community, both culturally and demographically. This effort was evident in the speeches. Malaysia Walker, transgender education & advocacy program coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi encouraged women to express their frustrations and needs, regardless of their cultural or economic background. Walker stated that we must stop allowing others to tell us our truths because only we know them. Walker stated that while we need to protect others and tell their stories, it is also important to listen to their stories. Speakers at the march also spoke out about the recent revival of #metoo, which encouraged women in government and entertainment to share their experiences with sexism. These ranged from unwelcome sexual advances by male bosses and colleagues to limited career advancements and pay raises. Hina Qureshi, a Jackson resident, attended the Mississippi Women’s March in support of immigrants’ rights. She appreciates the fact that the march brings together many voices and opinions that are often overlooked. She said that she is concerned about “a lot of things at both the state and the local level” which includes those whose parents brought them here as children, without proper documentation. “With the dreamers and Salvadorans, all that’s happening… it’s just an environment of hostility.” She stated she would love to see more high school and college students participate in events such as women’s marches and learn more about their rights and the political process. Barbara Tucker attended the rally in support of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. She said that the event provides a safe environment for people to come together and discuss the issues that matter to them.