Over 200 participants of all genders, waving red flags and picket signs, gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square Thursday, March 8 for the International Women’s Strike to call for equal treatment and greater recognition of all women and the work they do both in and out of the workplace.
Social justice organization Don’t Shoot Portland organized the event, and other local groups including Socialist Alternative, Community Alliance of Tenants and Gabriela Portland discussed the importance of equal rights for women regardless of their race, socioeconomic status or choice of vocation under the tagline “feminism for the 99 percent.”
“When the International Women’s Strike talks about feminism for the 99 percent, what they’re talking about is women who tend to get forgotten,” said DSP representative Alyssa Pariah. Women of color, transgender women, immigrants, refugees and women living in poverty are some of these underrepresented women, Pariah expanded. “Rather than focusing on the ceiling so that a few of us can get to the highest heights, we want to raise the floor,” Pariah added.
Speakers emphasized women should be valued for their contributions to society in public and private spheres, including work that often goes unpaid and unrecognized.
“We’re not striving to simply become CEOs and take the place of the gateholders that happen to be [cis-heterosexual] white men,” said CAT representative Lamarra Haynes. “We’re striving to be past that, for every single woman in this world to have her choices.”
Speakers emphasized the concept of intersectionality, in which gender, sex, race and other statuses never exist independently from each other in everyday life.
Individuals from Socialist Alternative shared their view that capitalism is damaging to women’s fight for equality.
“You take care of yourself, your family, and then you go to work…and you make the money for the one percent at the top, when they should be supporting [women] because [women] make this society work,” said SA member and Portland State student Olivia Pace. “Figure out how much your labor is worth and how much you should be valued in your workplace.”
Participants ended the evening by taking to the streets, marching to Broadway Blvd. then down to the Willamette River waterfront. While some drivers honked and shouted at the procession—one driver yelled “I’ve got to fucking work, come on!”—-the march remained peaceful.
“I’m kind of tired of just being a ranter on Facebook,” said attendee and PSU student Alexandria Anderson. “I’m excited to be a part of actual activism and be a part of the change, instead of just expecting things to change.”