On the second anniversary of the 2017 international Women’s March, hundreds of Tri-Valley residents gathered in Pleasanton to participate in the city’s first Women’s March, celebrating diversity, inclusion and the success of women locally and nationally.
Joining numerous other women’s marches throughout the country on Saturday, approximately 800 residents gathered at Amador Valley High School for the rally -- which took marchers through much of downtown Pleasanton -- to celebrate the many accomplishments for women over the past two years, while still acknowledging that the country has a long way to go in terms of achieving total equality and inclusion.
“What a great year 2018 was. We did that together. Every phone call we made, every door we knocked, every text we sent... we were the change we needed to be in this country,” Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) said at a rally that preceded the march. “It was great to watch it all come together, but as we look towards 2020, I want to urge you to continue to march, to continue to speak, to continue to fight, for all of our values … When we vote our values we win.”
At the rally, a series of speakers acknowledged the trials of women nationally and locally, but did not neglect the many hard-earned achievement made by women in a relatively short amount of time.
After the Nov. 6 election, women currently make up nearly a quarter of the 116th Congress voting membership, the highest percentage in U.S. history, according to the Pew Research Center. That's approximately a 5% uptick from 2016 figures.
Even regionally, women have taken a larger role in civic governance winning a plethora of elections throughout the East Bay, said Kyoko Takayama, event organizer and OFA East Bay Central representative.
“Even in the Tri-Valley we have had more women in the city councils and local government (than ever before) and we are pushing that to be continued. It's a sign ‘OK we got this we can do this even better,’” Takayama said.
“We are trying to be more inclusive and diverse, which is a little more difficult because the minority community may not be coming out, but that's kind of what we are aiming for. We have diverse speakers (and) we hope that will be reflected with the marchers,” Takayama added prior to the event.
Public speakers at the rally boasted a cast of women from across the Tri-Valley who looked to exemplify the mission to promote diversity and inclusion.
“We will not be silent because we know that our own liberation is tied to the liberation of all others and that no one is truly free while another person remains oppressed,” said speaker Jessica Trubowitch, the public policy and community building director for the Jewish Community Relations Council.
Another speaker was Angela Vasquez, Las Positas College Inter Students Club chair, who spoke from her experiences as a self described dreamer and advocated for the support of undocumented students.
“My ultimate goal is to ensure that I have a voice for undocumented students all around campus because I’ve felt alone at some point... and I want to make sure that nobody else at Las Positas College thinks that they are alone just because of their status,” she said. “No person should ever feel like an outcast just because of where they came from.”
Other speakers featured at the rally included:
*Libby Galt -- Co-founder, Tri-Valley Women’s March Action Group.
* Mary Puthoff -- Lakota Tribe representing the local Ohlone, Yokuts and Miwok people.
* Alisha Shaik -- Women’s March Youth Empower 2019 Cohort, Las Positas College student and the rally’s emcee.
*Christine Dillman -- Sexual assault and counseling services director, Tri-Valley Haven.
* Marsha McInnis -- Co-founder, National Alliance on Mental Illness: NAMI Tri-Valley.
* Lylah Schmedel -- Las Positas Student Gov. president., Black Student Union representative.
The event had a variety of sponsors and organizations come together to make the march a reality including the Tri-Valley Women’s March Action Group, Livermore Indivisible, Students for Social Change and OFA East Bay Central.
During the march, organizers also promoted the Women’s Expo being held in front of the Amador football field, where a series of stands were placed providing women with resources and information on how to get involved politically.
The Tri-Valley Women's March also stressed the importance of including a younger generation of women in the process as early as possible. Ensuring just that, organizers were aided greatly by the efforts of Foothill High freshman Lily Mobraaten, who led the event's social media accounts and engaged in public outreach.
“There are so many important stories to be heard from people of different cultures and backgrounds and I really want people to unite because we are stronger together,” said Mobraaten, who also represents the youth advocacy group Students for Social Change.
“I think it's really important to get more youth involved. It's our future and I want us to get involved early so we can start making change and learning,” she continued, adding that she was very impressed with the number of her peers participating in the march.