Some students, faculty, and Laie community members joined the Honolulu division of the Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 21. Over 4.8 million men, women, and children set to the streets all around the world to stand in solidarity for women’s rights, according to the official Women’s March on Washington-Hawaii website. “That kind of solidarity is historic and has never happened before,” said Women’s Study Professor Anna Rago Christiansen.
Christiansen said, “Women’s rights are human rights. When we understand that, then we understand gender equality, and by this I mean that one sex is not better than the other, is necessary if we want to build a better world for our children where all lives are considered valuable.”
Christiansen added, “Sexism still exists; it may not be blatant at times, but it’s out there. Also, acknowledging this kind of oppression also opens someone up to recognizing other forms [of oppression].”
The official Women’s March on Washington - Hawaii website explained how after activist Teresa Shook created a Facebook event for the march, it skyrocketed from 40 proclaimed attendees to over 10,000 overnight. The website also says these events occurred on the islands of Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Maui, Kona and Hilo.
Senior international cultural studies major Sarah Precourt of Massachusetts said, “We won't be quiet, and won't allow any form of oppression sitting down anymore. We’re at a time in history where we can and are able to stand up for women’s rights, and recognize that. What the march established was making a difference not only in our society, but for the societies of oppressed women around the world.”
Christiansen said of her experience attending the Honolulu march, “Those of us who marched were separate, isolated individuals who all hoped for the same thing. When we came together in solidarity, our sum total was hopeful and incredibly powerful. I’m an introvert and I don’t like crowds, but the aloha at ‘#womensmarchoahu’ was amazing. Alone we are only one person concerned about an issue. Together we are legion and we can enact change.”
Christiansen continued, “I attended the march particularly because my teenage daughter wanted to go. She wanted to march peacefully and support global women's rights. I think her generation will understand the power of activism even more than mine does, and I’m looking forward to how they will change the world for the better.”
“The march was not about lifting women higher than men. It was about recognizing the shared importance women play in society,” Christiansen added.
Jamie Loveridge, a junior English major from California added, “[We’re] supporting something for half of the population of the world. Why would we not promote these rights for women? Women's rights are rights for everyone. Women are the ones who create people and they’re the reason you’re here on this earth right now.”
Loveridge continued, “The time for fighting for women’s rights isn’t over yet. We can still make that kind of a difference. Women’s suffrage activist had to fight in the same way we are still fighting today. The fact that these marches all around the world shows that this still is a huge problem in societies even today.”
Psychology senior Bethany Hatch of Canada, continued, “In this march you don't necessarily have to be either conservative or liberal to be involved in supporting women's rights. This was a stance and march for women; it should be apolitical.”
Undeclared junior Siniva Savaiinaea of Kahuku, explained, “A lot of the time, some woman can’t make [it to] these kinds of events and we need to go there to represent them. They have reasons they cannot go; maybe because of the husband's or the families lack of support for this kind of march. We go to represent them and be their voice for change.”