The day after the presidential election, a Facebook post by a woman in Hawaii calling for women to unite in solidarity for human rights created a groundswell of support from people across the country, including women throughout Rhode Island.
Since that first post on November 9, hundreds of thousands of women and men across the country have united to support the Women’s March on Washington. The National Chapter, along with chapters in each of our 50 states, will be marching in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, January 21, 2017, the day after the inauguration. The march, which started as a women’s movement, quickly became fully inclusive of a diverse group of men and women who all share a common goal: To stand for the protection of the rights, safety, health and equity of all humans.
According to the National Women’s March on Washington webpage, “The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – women, immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, native people, black and brown people, people with disabilities, the economically impoverished, and survivors of sexual assault.”
To date, the Women’s March on Washington, which is being called a historic movement, already has 374,000 women, men and their families who’ve marked on its Facebook page that they’re “going” or “interested.” The march will begin with a 10 a.m. rally on January 21, at the intersection of Independence Ave. and Third Street SW, near the U.S. Capitol, and will continue toward the Washington Monument. Individuals and groups are primarily responsible for their own travel arrangements; however, the RI Chapter can direct you toward resources.
In addition, rallies and marches are being planned for January 21 in cities throughout the United States and around the world. The RI Women’s Solidarity Rally will take place at the State House from 1 to 3 p.m. and will include an expo area hosted by local organizations actively working for justice for all. Shanna Wells of West Warwick leads a team of volunteers who organize the local rally. Cranston resident Julia Hansen is one of the hundreds planning to attend.
“I feel it's my responsibility to ensure that the rights women have fought for continue and that we not stop until we are completely equal in every way. I fear this administration does not have women's equality in mind and is looking to take away our right to choose,” said Hansen.
The RI Chapter of the Women’s March on Washington is being led by Nancy Rafi of Wickford. Rafi stresses that the march and the rally will be a fully inclusive, non-violent movement.
“This is still America. There are a lot of people in this country – especially in our little state – who are willing to stand up and say, ‘No, I do not believe in policies against the disenfranchised. I will stand by my neighbors whatever their race, sexuality or religion.’ We will join in diversity and solidarity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore,” said Rafi.
Kathy Ogni of Warwick, who will be marching in D.C. with her 14-year-old daughter, feels her presence is an important message to her two children.
“I’m marching because my kids are watching me. I want the incoming administration to know that I am watching them and that the hundreds of thousands of Americans marching with me and my daughter are not going away. We will do everything within our power to ensure that rhetoric during the election demonizing the marginalized and oppressed is not tolerated and that the rights of all people are upheld,” said Ogni.
According to Rafi, there are many ways for Rhode Islanders to lend their support, including participating locally or nationally, volunteer or helping organize the local rally on the State House lawn. Volunteer meetings are held every Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Providence Public Library on Empire St. For more information visit the chapter’s website, riwomensmarch.com.