International Women’s DayPublished on April, 49 2017
Margaret Prescod speaking at the LA Branch luncheon. Credit: WILPF LA Branch, Youtube.
WILPF US branches around the country marked March 8, International Women’s Day, by being bold for change. Here are three accounts, from both coasts.
Maine Distributes Flowers and Peace
By Jean Sanborn, WILPF Maine and member of PeaceWorks
The Maine Branch decided to continue its annual distribution of flowers on the street for International Women’s Day—this year, moving from Brunswick to Bath. Each year, we see more recognition of just what WILPF is about, and with the other events going on around the women’s strike, women and girls reacted more with pleasure than surprise as they received their carnations. We greeted women on the street and went into the shops on the main street of Bath, many of which are owned by women. We even got a hug from one young woman. We always attach information about WILPF and about International Women’s Day to the flowers. It's a happy day for us to be giving such pleasure to other women.
The UN theme for the 2017 International Women’s Day was “Be Bold for Change.” Quoting from an op-ed the Maine Branch published in the Brunswick Times Record:
“Today, a century later, as our economic choices lead to the destruction of the planet, a new generation of young people is focusing on the needs of the environment and is full of energy and Boldness. If we do not turn back the destruction of our planet, human rights and even war will become irrelevant. The issues are linked; the military is the greatest destroyer of the environment, both in its use of financial resources and by its pollution footprint on the earth. We are not in an either/or position, forced to take on one issue and abandon others. Ultimately, we must work with each other on all fronts, making alliances and collaborations with other groups, having a central focus but seeing the connections with other issues.”
Humboldt Celebrates International Women’s Day with Our Community
By Sue Hilton, president, Humboldt Branch
Peace and freedom music filled the Arcata Playhouse auditorium on March 8, as the Humboldt County Branch hosted our sixth International Women’s Day Celebration. Featuring a keynote by the president of the local NAACP branch, informational tabling, announcement of our Peace and Justice grant winners, music by the Raging Grannies and a singalong, it was an inspirational and fun event.
The evening began with delicious snacks and conversation, as people learned about WILPF and our local ACLU branch and the Humboldt Rape Crisis team, and bought quilt raffle tickets and bid on silent auction items. The Raging Grannies led us into the auditorium, where Lorna Bryant, social media and public relations director of the Humboldt NAACP, delivered “Be Bold for Change,” written by branch president Liz Smith, who was unable to attend. Liz called President Trump “A divine blessing to bring unity among groups of peoples who have not always played together or played well together.” She sent us off with a list of ways we can be bold for change by supporting each other and taking care of ourselves. Our tablers talked a bit about their work, and emcee Carilyn Hammer introduced many of the winners of our Edilith Eckert Scholarship, including groups working on supporting immigrants, prisoners, homeless people, and people with mental health challenges, as well as the organizers of the week-long women’s festival that our gathering was part of.
And then it was time to pick up our songbooks and sing along with local musicians Jan Bramlet and Leslie Quinn, who had collected familiar and not-so-familiar songs about women, peace, and justice. It was a great way to end the evening, inspired to go on and do the work we need to do.
WILPF Los Angeles Hears about Women’s Resistance around the World
The WILPF Los Angeles Branch hosted its annual International Women’s Day luncheon on Saturday, March 4. This year, the program featured Margaret Prescod, a long-time community-based women’s rights, anti-poverty, and anti-racist campaigner. Her work is local, national, and international, and her range includes welfare rights, pay equity, a living wage for all workers, including mothers and caregivers, support for grassroots campaigners for justice in Haiti, opposing mass incarceration and solitary confinement, environmental justice, and more. She is the host of “Sojourner Truth,” a nationally syndicated FM radio public affairs program. The video of Margaret Prescod’s March 4, in which she spoke about the expected March 8 women’s strikes and protests around the world, is available on YouTube.
Original music was performed by the singing duo The Vicissitunes (WILPFers Holly Overin and Charell Charlie) and singer-songwriter Nalini Lasiewicz, also a WILPFer.
Inset photo: Music during the Humboldt Branch celebration of International Women’s Day. Courtesy Sue Hilton.