I Have More Reasons Than I Can Express.

On Saturday, January 21, 2017, I jumped in my car and drove to Rapid City, South Dakota, to be a part of the Women’s March. This was important to me for more reasons than I can express, but I will try to touch on some of them here.

I marched for my one-year-old daughter. May she grow up in an America that wants to see women succeed. A society that has affordable healthcare, birth control, reproductive rights, paid maternity leave, and equal pay for women. A country that recognizes that people who are LGBTQ+ are equal under the rights provided us by our constitution. All are created equal.

I marched for my three-year-old son. May he get to be a part of that same country. May he be an ally for women and may he, in turn, benefit from that.

May both of my children be caring, empathetic individuals who see injustice in the world and know how to show love for all people, regardless of their background.

I marched for my students. I want them to know that everything I have taught them in class is true. My students are dumbfounded when we discuss slavery. They ask why. They are confused when we talk about the suffragist movement and women fighting for the right to vote. They don’t get it when we discuss the Civil Rights era, and see photographs of people using different water fountains, bathrooms, restaurants, and swimming pools. It doesn’t make any sense to them, because they know the world is better than that. They know that Malala Yousefzai was shot in Pakistan trying to fight for rights of girls to get an education. This also makes no sense to them. Why are there places in the world where girls don’t have the right to an education? I assure them it makes no sense to me either. A couple years ago while watching the news with one of my classes, the anchor started to talk about the pay gap between men and women who were doing the same job. One of my students, a girl, came running up to me to repeat the statistic. She was baffled and I knew I had no good answer to provide her. I teach them they are equal and they can do anything they want to do, but when they hear that may not be true, they simply cannot understand.

Since I started teaching in 2010, I have had a sign on my door saying “Everyone is welcome here, everyone belongs.” I believe this to be true, and this is why I marched.

Our country has grown to be better because of the people who stood up. People who peacefully marched. That is what happened on the day of the Women’s March. Over five million women and men around the world, in cities large, small, and tiny, peacefully came together to march for equality. We want to live in a world where people are treated equally. This is why I marched.

I Marched So My Granddaughters Don’t Have To

I grew up in an era that discouraged young women from believing they could do anything. A boss once told me that even though I was doing a great job, I wouldn’t get a very big raise. He said he knew my husband had just gotten a big promotion, and they needed to save the bigger raises for the men who were heads of households. We’ve come a long way, but women still make only 80 cents for every dollar a man makes. I’ve been an independent voter and have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. But I fear the new administration does not respect women (remember the Bill Bush tape). I have two young granddaughters. I don’t want them to have to march for equal rights. That’s one reason I marched. I hope the elected officials who represent me will have the guts to stand up for women and others who are marginalized.

My granddaughters and my grandson are the children of an immigrant. My son-in-law (as a child) and his family fled Nicaragua to escape the communist reign of the Sandinistas. They are model citizens of the United States now. My son-in-law is a science teacher. One of his sisters is a translator for the FBI. Like Ronald Reagan, they believed that the Statue of Liberty really meant the U.S. would be a refuge for people like themselves. Last night, the president signed an executive order that puts a huge dent in that belief.

That’s why I marched. And that’s why I weep.

Not for Me But for My Friends.

I endured a grueling bus trip to be in DC on Saturday. I traveled from Iowa with friends. Not for me but for my friends.

I March for my black women friends who are worried that their husbands and sons will be killed in a traffic stop.

I marched for my immigrant friends so they would feel safe in the country they’ve adopted because their own country was not a healthy place to live.

I Marched for my Muslim friends, who deserve the right to choose their religion in a country taken from Native Americans by people escaping religious persecution.

I marched for my Great grandmother who lost her farm when her husband died, she had to sell grain in the name of her 5 year old son. For my great aunt who shared the story of her mother getting to vote. These stories of string women make up my family, may they watch over me and be proud.

For inequality in the workplace and everyday sexism we are so used to we barely notice. For a salary correction that awards equal work for equal pay.

Women are as capable of making decisions as men. Stop legislating our bodies. You cannot stop abortion, you can stop safe abortion. The Hyde amendment has kept your federal funds safe since 1976 when I was 10. Stop wasting your legislative efforts in non issues and spend time doing good.

I Marched Because I Want Our Voices to Be Heard!

I marched because I learned the importance of being an advocate in 1976 when I started my first job as a counselor at Planned Parenthood of Lincoln.  I saw the need for women to have affordable health care, birth control counseling, and pregnancy option counseling without being judged.  I marched because I fear that funding for Planned Parenthood will continue to be reduced and women will not have an option for free or affordable health care, that a woman’s rights to control reproduction, and that their right to have a safe and legal abortion will all be taken away.

In 1986, I started working as an Independent Living Advisor at the League of Human Dignity.  This involved advocating for the rights of students with disabilities to see that schools were applying the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  So many individuals with disabilities are still facing huge barriers to live independent lives without being judged by society based on the fact that they have a disability.  I am a woman with a disability and felt like my voice needed to be heard at the Women’s March.

I marched because the LGBTQ community faces barriers in regulations of employment discrimination, bias in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, and compensation, as well as harassment on the basis of one’s sexual orientation.  I marched because I fear their rights with marriage equality will be stripped.

I marched to fight for the rights of woman to receive equal pay.   Women still are not receiving equal pay for equal work, let alone equal pay for work of equal value. This disparity not only affects women’s spending power, it penalizes their retirement security by creating gaps in Social Security and pensions.

I marched because of race discrimination.  Martin Luther King is one of my heroes and I marched for him.  I marched for Margaret Sanger, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony and every person who has fought for the rights of all the causes that I believe in.

I marched because I want our voices to be heard!

I Believe in Equal Rights

I didn’t march but I understand why many did. The reason I feel the Women’s March was important is because so many people believe women’s rights are only about abortion. I am not pro-abortion but I am pro-women’s health and women’s rights. I believe in providing services to those who need them. I believe in educating our young people about sex and the prevention of pregnancy and disease. I believe in equal opportunity and pay. We have come a long way but we are not there yet. I believe that women must continue to fight for their autonomy and continue to speak up so the current administration understands that we will not allow our rights to be stripped from us.

I Had to March; There was No Question Whether I Should

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Photo Credit – Sara Sawatzki, Open Road Photographer 2017

I am a Mother, Grandmother, Spouse, Aunt, Cousin, Daughter, Granddaughter and organic farmer (for 25 years).

I had to march; there was no question whether I should. I’ll be 70 years old in July and I have experienced the women’s rights movement and what was fought for in the 60’s. I’ve seen women’s rights slowly evolve so women have so many choices not thought possible for my generation. To see our rights erode for my daughters, seven granddaughters, and all women of all religions, cultures, sexuality, economic status is not acceptable. We have much more to do and shouldn’t have to be spending our time defending our rights that we have. We do not have equal pay, no matter what white males say.

I marched for environmental and social justice. A healthy and social environment will help ensure a positive future for future generations, men and women.

Because I love our country

I marched because I love our country, and I value truth and freedom. Not even a week into his term, our new President has lied repeatedly; denied the press access to him and his administration; has silenced entities and organizations that disagree with him; is frighteningly unable to discern between the trivial and the important when attacking those who disagree with him (and he personally attacks citizens of the United States who disagree with him); and is destroying advances we’ve made in women’s/immigrants’/minorities’ rights, religious freedom, science education, affordable health care, environmental issues, and equality issues facing minorities. I value what rights we have in this country, and I’d like to preserve and expand them–not contract them. Women’s rights need to continue to grow and expand, and I believe the current President will not only fail to advance women’s issues (access to affordable health care and services, equal pay for equal work, affordable/reliable child care, educate legislative bodies/judges/attorneys about the rape culture in our society that gives the perpetrator every advantage, and many others), he’ll turn back the clock on the painstaking progress we’ve made.