Jan. 26, 2022 — The fifth annual global Women’s March took place on Saturday with major events planned in Washington D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, Paris and London.
Locally in Florence, about 100 people met at the Florence United Methodist Church on Kingwood Drive in support of women’s reproductive rights and the ongoing effort to secure social and economic equality for women in the United States and around the world.
Oregon Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle, Florence ORganizes (FOR) founder Nin Bebeau and Florence City Councilor Sally Wantz all spoke of the need for woman to retain control and autonomy of their reproductive rights, in addition to the importance of coming together for support.
"Protests and marches reassure people that they’re neither alone in their anger or fear, nor crazy for being angry and fearful. They introduce demonstrators to new friends and networks of political activity. There’s nothing like the rush of standing in a chanting crowd, sweating or shivering with thousands of people who share one’s outrage, to revive flagging willpower.” Wantz said.
One of the highlights of the rally and the march down Bay Street which followed was a performance by local vocal artist Maree Beers and her daughter, Zhade, both residents of Mapleton.
Hoyle is running to replace longtime District 4 House of Representatives member Peter DeFazio and mentioned both the important work done by the retiring congressman and her reasons for participating in the Florence rally.
“A big thanks to FOR for inviting me to help kick off their fifth anniversary Woman’s March,” Hoyle said. “It's been 49 years since Roe vs. Wade and reproductive rights have never been more at risk. We need to keep fighting from now through November to win elections up and down the ballot.”
One of the founders of the five-year-old FOR, Bebeau, was also a featured speaker. Her participation in many of the group’s events has given her a unique perspective on the need to continue to battle for women’s control over their own reproductive systems.
“Women are the custodians of the world. We change the diapers and clean up the mess. This world has a lot of mess right now,” Bebeau said. “The ‘good old boys’ club has made a mess of the environment and the lop-sided financial structure of our society. We are making waves and we will continue to make bigger and bigger waves until we wash away an unfair way of life.”
Another FOR attendee was Leonora Kent, who has been involved in all the previous Women’s Marches. Kent spoke of the importance of continuing to work towards establishing and maintaining woman’s reproductive, economic and social rights.
“Our local FOR and Women's March participants align with the national trend of women activists who attended marches. The first Women's March was attended by 376 people. From sign ups that day, FOR was born — eventually organizing into four teams, healthcare, education, environment and human rights,” Kent said. “Many of us have joined other groups, including Indivisible and Lane County Community Action. Some of us have run for office. We are all still part of a movement to bring the rights of women, families, and other underserved peoples to the forefront of political change.”
People can learn more about the global Women’s March movement online at www.womensmarch.com. For information about the Florence effort, go to www.facebook.com/FlorenceORganizes.