Women’s rally urges reform

Signs proclaiming I’ll be Post-Feminist in Post-Patriarchy and Equal Rights are Human Rights dotted the Ellipse as GW students joined thousands of demonstrators in the World March of Women 2000 Sunday.

About 40 GW students met the group gathered on the Ellipse to begin the march. They walked on 18th Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and marched past the World Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings.

GW marchers cheered loudly as they continued down 19th Street past Thurston and Mitchell halls. Students cheered from the windows of both residence halls in support of the marchers.

This is the first time in the history of the world that women are coming together worldwide to stand up for women’s rights, said GW alumna Angela Arboleda, president of the 51st State of the National Organization for Women, a state chapter of the national organization.

The event was created to show that a strong feminist community demands change, Arboleda said.

The Feminist Majority of Leadership Alliance, a national non-profit group, coordinated GW’s participation in the event, said Alyson Kozma, a first-year women’s studies graduate student who helped organize GW marchers.

GW has a really good activist base, Kozma said. So when large marches like this come to D.C. we can plug those activists into the event.

GW’s delegation included three men.

I’ve considered myself to be a feminist for five or six years, senior Duncan Autrey said. I find it very important because it has an individualistic focus.

Other GW students spoke about the importance of feminist issues.

I’ve been a feminist since I was really little, sophomore Jen Jaketic said. Going to the march is a way to let my voice be heard and help all around the world.

The GW delegation of marchers helped lead cheers during the march, such as, What do want? Abortion rights! When do we want them? Forever!

The march ended at the Ellipse, where Virginia Williams, the mother of D.C. mayor Anthony Williams, greeted marchers.

Bonnie Morris, a professor in GW’s women’s studies department, spoke at rally, which was broadcast worldwide.

We have the false impression that feminism has succeed in the U.S., but in most countries inequality still exists, Morris said. Global equality for women is completely unachieved.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal and NOW President Patricia Ireland also spoke at the event.

Violence against women in all its forms is a global problem, Ireland said in her speech. She also emphasized the problem of domestic violence and the economic inequalities in the world.

Economic violence is as deadly as physical violence, she said.

Speakers focused on the importance of voting to make change in the United States.

Women have the most to gain and the most to loose at the ballot boxes, Norton said in her speech.

I am going to the march to get involved with women issues and start a movement in my own country, said Abby Charles, a freshman from Trinidad. There has been a lot of success for women, but they are still under-voiced.

The event, sponsored by 5,000 organizations around the world, took place in similar fashion in 182 countries beginning in March, GW alumna Arboleda said.

The World March of Women will present a petition signed by 2 million people to World Bank President James D. Wolfensohn Oct. 16, according the NOW Web site. The petition demands the elimination of poverty, a fair distribution of the planet’s wealth among all people and the end of violence against women, according to the Web site.

This same petition will be presented Oct. 17 to Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, according the Web site.

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