A wave of marchers to stand for women’s rights

Some 3,000 people participated in the first Women’s March in downtown Santa Fe on Jan. 21, 2017. New Mexican file photo

In a month that has seen a surge of newly elected women take office in New Mexico and nationwide, organizers are expecting demonstrators to fill the streets of downtown Santa Fe and scores of other U.S. cities for the third annual Women’s March next weekend.

Santa Fe City Councilor Renee Villarreal said the Jan. 19 event — themed #WomensWave — will be a celebration of the women who are stirring change, particularly in New Mexico.

“There’s a considerable number of women who ran for office and also won,” Villarreal said of the 2018 general election, in which New Mexico voters put Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres Small in Congress and boosted the number of women in the state Legislature.

“[Women] leadership is important. We need to continue to stress that,” said Villareal, who helped plan the upcoming Northern New Mexico Women’s March.

Launched in 2017 after Republican President Donald Trump took office, the Women’s March has been “a galvanizing force” for women to connect with one another in ways they hadn’t prior, said Sarah Ghiorse, executive director of NewMexicoWomen.org, one of the groups organizing the local event.

In its first year, the Women’s March surpassed expectations, drawing more than half a million people to the main event in Washington, D.C., and an estimated 7 million to hundreds of events worldwide — including up to 15,000 people from all over Northern New Mexico who braved a snowstorm to attend a march in downtown Santa Fe.

The mile-long parade of marchers in Santa Fe made a call for protections of not just women’s rights but all human rights in response to Trump’s hostile campaign rhetoric.

Planning for the 2017 march in Santa Fe got a late start by new organizers who jumped in to fill a gap after realizing there was no local demonstration in the works. Activists Nancy McDonald and Karen Cain said they worked 24/7 to make the march happen just three weeks ahead of the event, which got a boost from the #MeToo movement that was heightening awareness of sexual harassment and sexual violence against women.

That march saw a smaller crowd at the Santa Fe Plaza — an estimated 3,000 — amid another blast of winter.

Ghiorse said she expects more participants this year and a more diverse group of demonstrators.

Other organizers agreed.

“We live in a very diverse community, and the march should be just as dynamic,” said Christina M. Castro, the founder of 3 Sisters Collective and a member of the Jemez and Taos pueblos.

Castro, who called the group of march organizers “gender justice warriors,” said she expects many Hispanics, indigenous people, African-Americans and Arabs to gather at the state Capitol for the 11 a.m. event, along with members of the LGBT community. The crowd will walk to the Plaza, where a rally with talks and entertainment is scheduled until 2 p.m.

As women’s voices as a whole become louder, so do the voices of women within marginalized groups, Ghiorse said.

“Women’s justice is gender justice, economic justice; it is racial justice. … It’s intersectional,” she said. “We can’t just look at gender and sexism without taking into consideration a whole other host of issues and identities.”

Two year’s into Trump’s presidency, Castro said, women feel more strongly than ever to stand up against misogynistic rhetoric.

“It’s an insidious climate we’re in, so it’s important for women to mobilize together,” she said. “You’re seeing the pushback.”

Cecile Lipworth, founder and CEO of Ripple Catalyst Studio, said Trump’s rhetoric actually has been a blessing of sorts. Before Trump came into power, she said, women’s justice issues never made front-page news. Now, however, inequality is at the forefront.

“Trump brought all the injustice in America to the top,” Lipworth said. “He gave us [women] the best publicity we could have had.”

Ghiorse said leaders from Tewa Women United and Women of Color Leadership will speak at the event, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been invited to give an opening statement.

Breakdancers, singers, poets and other artists will perform to help “amplify the message,” Ghiorse said.

That message? “It’s time for women to lead,” she said.


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