Fighting like girls

SEK NOW organizes Women’s March


Story by Ximena Ibarra, reporter

Last year millions of Americans made history by participating in the Women’s March. This year #MeToo fueled the flames of another Women’s March, but this time Pittsburg hosted one of the many marches.

The local Women’s March was put together by the local chapter of the National Organization for Women. One of the cordinators is English teacher Lyn Schultze.

“We saw our country taking a turn towards things we completely disagree with, so we decided to do something about it instead of sitting on the sidelines,” Schultze said.

This year’s march focused on the issue of sexual violence. In 2017, many victims of sexual abuse came forward through #MeToo. The movement has revealed how pervasive the issue of sexual harassment is, even within Pittsburg.

We saw our country taking a turn towards things we completely disagree with, so we decided to do something about it instead of sitting on the sidelines.

— Lyn Schultze

“I can’t even think of anybody I know who hasn’t had to deal with [sexual harassment] at some point in their life in a job situation,” Schultze said.

Ashley Caldwell, an ESOL teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School and co-coordinator for SEK NOW, explained the difference between the first Women’s March and last month’s march.

“Last year was more for reproductive rights and healthcare in response to the things going on with women in government,” Caldwell said. “This year we really wanted to focus on the #MeToo movement and on the survivors of sexual assault or abuse.”

On Jan. 20, hundreds of people attended the Women’s March in Pittsburg. The protesters began in front of Russ Hall and marched to the Pritchett Pavilion where the rally was held.

Schultze is optimistic that the movement will bring awareness about sexual abuse to help the victims.

“I hope that [the #MeToo movement] gives young women in any position the strength to speak up,” Schultze said.

The Women’s March became an avenue through which students, including freshman Audrey Goode, attended in order to instigate change and learn about social issues.

“I know that there are cases of sexual abuse within the student body so I’m hoping that the #MeToo movement will bring awareness to the people involved in that,” Goode said.

Junior Nathan Newby also attended the march. Newby believes that grassroots efforts are important in order to make a larger impact to the nation.

“If it wasn’t for places like Pittsburg, [#MeToo] wouldn’t have been able to achieve the recognition that it got,” Newby said. “The issue only gains momentum if everyone supports and marches.”

Senior David Green marched in Pittsburg’s Women’s March as well. Green believes that the status quo does not change unless people take action to improve it.

“If I can have the opportunity to go do something I feel is right, then I want to do that,” Green said.

The Women’s March also served as an educational moment for Green because of the stories that were shared from differing perspectives and backgrounds. Speakers included DACA March organizer Cynthia Hernandez and LGBT+ activist Julie Houston. Houston was accoladed SEK NOW’s Wonder Woman Award.

“I thought it was really moving,” Green said. “It really opened my eyes and changed my perspective a lot.”

Caldwell emphasized the significance of continuing the activism past the Pritchett Pavilion.

“A lot of the speakers at the march talked about getting involved in some way or another,” Caldwell said. “That’s the effect that we hope have on our community.”

Some of the events that Caldwell listed included being involved with the local government, organizations and speaking up for the movement.

Starting Feb. 1, SEK NOW is organizing the Menstrual Product Drive, also known as the Bloody Good Cause, which is accepting cash donations or feminine products for the people that cannot afford it or do not have access to them.

“Those [feminine hygiene products] are often overlooked as a need that women face in certain situations,” Caldwell said. “We are trying to work on that with the Bloody Good Cause Drive.”

SEK NOW is accepting donations for USD 250 and Wesley House through the month of February. For more details visit their Facebook page at SEK NOW.

Caldwell encourages people to continue their activism after the march.

“I hope that we inspire more people to get involved even if its not with SEK Now,” Caldwell said. “I hope people will learn that it’s okay to step up and have your voice heard.”