In early November I entered my local polling station with a spring in my step thinking “I am taking part in a historic occasion – voting for the first woman President of the United States.” When that was not the outcome, I was distraught and distressed. More disturbing to me than not having helped elect the first woman President, was the fact that many of the values I hold dear and had worked hard to achieve, seemed to be on the brink of being wiped away.
I became interested in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own reproductive health ten years before the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1973. When I was 21 and still living at home, I went to my family doctor to get a prescription for birth control pills – and was out-raged that the docter then proceeded to inform my mother! It has been disconcerting to see historic decision gradually eroded as subsequent verdicts have put limits on women’s rights.
The Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on August 6, 1965, to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment (1870) to the Constitution of the United States. However, has more recently been chipped away at through gerrymandering and voter ID laws.
Even though the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was signed into law by Congress in 1975, the person nominated to head up the federal Department of Education, thinks that individual states should be able to choose how or whether to enforce its standards. As a parent, as well as an advocate, this law is important to students with a variety of learning challenges.
There is a move to turn federal public lands over to the states, the Endangered Species Act and wilderness areas are at risk, and the human contribution to climate change documented by science has been labeled a hoax.
Vaccine laws may be weakened, putting children’s health at risk.
After finally gaining legal status, I am concerned that the rights of my LGBT friends might be at risk.
As the daughter of a naturalized citizen, I am deeply troubled by the finger pointing at immigrants.
While I have been fortunate to have had good health coverage throughout my life from my employers, I have long been concerned about people I know who had to purchase their own health care, were denied coverage or charged exorbitant amounts because of pre-existing conditions and had to forego necessary care. I lobbied strongly for the Affordable Care Act. Now health care is at risk.
Congress has continually voted down laws that would guarantee women equal pay for equal work and there is still a sentiment by some that women in the workforce are taking jobs away from men. This belief is particularly grating on me since I was accused of this when I came back to work after the birth of my first child.
And, lastly, the Equal Rights Amendment still has not been ratified!
A lot to be fearful about.
When I heard about the Women’s March on Washington, I was envious and wished I could participate. But then a group of young women came to the rescue and organized the Women’s March on Washington Albuquerque – and similar events were held around the country – and across the world.
I knew I had to participate in what I hope was a historic event.
I invited a woman almost ten years older than I am to go with me. Since she doesn’t drive, she wouldn’t be able to go on her own. She has always been a strong advocate for women and the environment and I didn’t want her to miss it.
We went to a park and ride lot and caught the express city bus to downtown. At its few stops, groups of women got on and were cheered by those already on board. A sense of camaraderie developed that would be felt throughout the morning.
We arrived about half an hour before the rally started and the Civic Plaza was already half full.
As people began pouring in, we admired the hand-made signs. Each woman was motivated differently.
As we wandered around, a friend offered us a pink ‘pussy’ hat. My friend accepted one,
but I declined. “I am here for more than misogyny and don’t want the hat to define my concerns,” I explained.
We were impressed by the many men,
as well as young families with their children.
It was the younger generation standing up and taking the reins that was so encouraging. One sign expressed my sentiments – I never thought I would have to be rallying for these issues again.
An estimated 10,000 people participated peacefully.
When thinking about my motivation for participating, I knew I had to do this for my granddaughter. I don’t want her and her generation to have to start from scratch to regain what my generation and her parent’s generation had worked so hard to achieve.
I may not live to see a woman elected President of the United States, but feel confident it will happen.