Why I march in solidarity and support of women

By JENNIFER MUIR BEUTHIN, Contributing Columnist

On Saturday, millions of people in cities across our nation will walk together in solidarity and support of women.

While the largest group will spill throughout Washington, D.C., more than 9,000 are expected to walk shoulder to shoulder in our own community.

I am just one woman who will be there in Santa Ana among a crowd of many. Since there has been so much discussion about what these events signify or don’t, I wanted to share what this day will mean to me and why I plan to join thousands of others to march through the rain.

I am the granddaughter of a woman who earned a Ph.D. during a time when women didn’t do that, who still was always expected to put the career of her husband and the needs of her children before her professional aspirations.

I am the daughter of a woman who regularly worked overtime to pay for day care, our dance, our baseball and soccer. A woman who, despite working long days, also logged long nights to make sure we had opportunities to grow and experience new things.

I am a girl from Garden Grove who relied on services from Planned Parenthood to provide my basic health care needs when I reached adolescence, who was shaped by a patchwork of family members and teachers and neighbors and community volunteers who invested a piece of themselves in believing in my worth.

I am a former journalist who believes deeply that our democracy cannot and will not survive — and cannot possibly reflect the interests of all Americans — without a free and vibrant press to hold the powerful accountable and to give voice to the issues affecting the neighborhoods where I grew up.

I am a labor leader in a county where women in the municipal workforce are still paid an average of 27 percent less than men, according to a recent study, despite their herculean efforts each day to keep our communities safe and healthy — a county where in very recent memory women were sexually assaulted on the job by their boss, and where the boss’ friends and political allies covered it up. I am a citizen in a country where women of color earn even less.

I am a survivor of sexual harassment and a friend to countless other women who have been assaulted, demeaned or who have been discriminated against because of their sex, their race or their sexual orientation. I am in a tribe of professional women, some of whom would no longer be able to pay rent or adequately support their families if their health care premiums increased 20 percent, which is the figure released this week by the Congressional Budget Office for the cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

I fear for friends whose families who could be divided because of deportation, or who could be targeted because of the color of their skin or their religious beliefs. Our union led a community event on Veteran’s Day this year where someone hung a swastika, and we had to argue with them to take it down.

I am one woman among the thousands who will march tomorrow who knows that when we stand together in celebration and protection of what make us great, makes us human, we will surely overcome the divisiveness and the uncertainty we are facing today.

So tomorrow I will march in gratitude for the diverse and committed women and men who have organized this opportunity in our county to come together and reflect on what drives us to stand together in sisterhood.

If you would like to join us, we will meet beginning at 9 a.m. and the 1.1 mile march will start at 10 a.m. in Plaza Calle Cuatro, on the corner of 4th Street and French Street, in Downtown Santa Ana. Learn more at ocwomensmarch.org.

Jennifer Muir Beuthin is general manager of the Orange County Employees Association.

Publication Date: January 20, 2017