On the centennial of women’s suffrage in the United States, hundreds of women’s rights advocates could be seen marching through downtown Pleasanton in a celebration of all that women have achieved over the past 100 years.
Held in combination with hundreds of similar events throughout the country on Saturday, the 2020 Tri-Valley Women's March saw participants acknowledge that while women have accomplished much, there are still many ongoing issues needed to be resolved.
“It’s part celebration and part (recognizing) that we do have issues we are still fighting for,” said 15-year-old Lily Mobraaten, an organizer for the march and co-founder of Pleasanton’s Students for Social Change. “Something that I really like about the Women’s March is that there is such a diversity of causes. Students for Social Change is here tabling. We have Moms Demand Action. There are so many different issues that not only affect women but our community as a whole.”
Diversity and inclusion were central themes of the march, which was preceded with a rally at Amador Valley High School where community members spoke of the tribulations girls and women have had to overcome and the work that lies ahead in achieving equality.
“There has been a very long history of women fighting for their rights that we are celebrating here today. And with all the good that has come from this movement, rooted in the ideals of inclusion and equity, we cannot forget there is a long history of exclusion and inequity within our own feminist movement, leaving out our own sisters of color, our transgender and non-binary community members,” said Brittni Kiick, a founding volunteer of Livermore Pride and the rally’s emcee, stressing the historically overlooked importance of inclusion.
“To me, being a proud American, our differences are really what make us great. Our differences are the reason why America is America. It is the reason why people come to this country; it is the reason why my parents as refugees escaped a war-torn Afghanistan to provide a better life for their family,” added Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab at the rally.
In addition to discussing issues that women continue to fight for, such as reproductive freedom, climate change and representation in government, women’s rights advocates also celebrated the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits voting practices and procedures that discriminate on the basis of race, color or membership in a language minority group.
Organizers also promoted the Women’s Expo being held in front of the Amador football field, where participants could learn from local organizations about their rights and how to increase involvement in their local community.
At the expo, attendees could register to vote, and while many participants such as Mobraaten are too young to do so, expo volunteers still provided information on ways youth advocates could get involved in other ways.
"This is the fourth year of the march and it is kind of coming full circle so I think its really exciting," Mobraaten told the Weekly. "As a youth activist I can’t vote yet, but I’m excited to see my friends filtering into the generation that can."