Tuesday, March 11, 2014

International Women's Day March in Chinatown!

The sidewalks, clubs and art galleries in Chinatown are usually crowded on 1st Friday so World Can't Wait-Hawai`i put out a call for a march through the district to demand an end to the war on women.   But this 1st Friday it rained!   When organizers got to the spot where the march was to begin the sidewalks and galleries were largely deserted.  Leafleters huddled beneath a gallery awning and began passing out the palm cards and leaflets from Stop Patriarchy,loudly announced that International Women's Day was the following day, and invited people to join a march beginning at 8.  At the beginning it seemed the evening was doomed to failure but things quickly turned around once people began reading the signs and palm cards.
Almost the first person who took a palm card was a woman from Mongolia who enthusiastically said: "International Women's Day is really big in my country!"   Another said: "I saw that International Women's Day was tomorrow on Google!"  A woman from Tagikistan related how it was celebrated in her country.  A tourist couple from Melbourne, Australia held signs.  A Russian woman was eager to talk about events in the Ukraine. 

 A man rushed up to the World Can't Wait-Hawai`i spokesperson saying "you would have loved the show on Olelo  on "One Billion Rising."     Then he looked at her and realized she'd narrated the show!  ["Voices of Resistance" - an hour-long show on community television is produced by World Can't Wait-Hawai`i'].  He went on to tell her that he had been moved to tears by the show, had watched it several times, and urged his friends who were with him to watch it as well.   

A well-dressed older woman shared that she "can't believe we're still fighting for abortion rights" and then went on to share her outrage that the women's movement had largely backed off of "being radical."

 Coming out in the rain had gotten a whole lot better.  Most people took palm cards and thanked us.  One couple initially by saying "I don't want one" and then quickly walked back to ask for one saying "I'm going to give this to my granddaughter." 

 At 8pm things were definitely looking up and an organizer turned on her bullhorn and called on people to pick up signs and and begin marching.  More than a dozen people headed through the district chanting and holding up  signs for people in restaurants, galleries and clubs to see:  A few people along the short route took signs and joined up.   As the march went past popular clubs, young people standing outside snapped pictures.  A few raised fists.  
 While the march wasn't as big as we had hoped, and we didn't reach as many people as we had hoped, when the march ended spirits were high.    Pictures of signs and banners were taken to send to an International Women's Day march in Gaza.  Marchers seemed reluctant to leave and instead took cover and continued conversations,   It was hard to believe that only a short time before organizers had considered cancelling the march. 

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