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‘Unite Against the War on Women’

Published Apr 25, 2012 11:23 PM

Little did Karen Teagarden and Desiree Jordan know when they issued a call on Facebook on Feb. 19 that they would be initiating a new grassroots phase of the ongoing movement for women’s equality and justice.

But that’s what their call to “Unite Against the War on Women” on April 28 is generating. In little over two months, their social media-based organizing has inspired women in 48 states to call marches and rallies at state capitals and other major U.S. cities. Though women in Mississippi and North Dakota have not yet responded, three events are planned in both Florida and Washington state and women in West Virginia are joining the “closest event.”

While the attacks on reproductive rights so infuriated Teagarden and Jordan that they were compelled to call for a national mobilization, they realize that so many wrongs need to be righted. According to their home page statement: “UniteWomen.org strongly supports diversity and welcomes men and women of all ages without regard to their race, color, creed, political affiliation, disability, religious or spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, education or income level, marital status, employment status, or immigrant status. Everyone is invited to join, plan, and rally as we unite to demand that every person be granted equal opportunities, equal rights, and equal representation.”

The national endorsement list is growing. In addition to groups like the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Code Pink and the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, young women are adding their voices through groups like Advocates for Youth and Rock the Slut Vote.

On April 17, the Equal Pay Day, 9to5: National Association of Working Women endorsed. As a unitewomen.org press release noted, 9to5’s “efforts have resulted in the greater awareness to the challenges that working women face every day, including persistent job and pay inequities, workplace discrimination, lack of support for women and men to accommodate their parental care responsibilities, and increased efforts by unions to organize working women.”

‘Time to stand up’ for women

The National Organization for Women issued a statement April 20 in support of the grassroots movement: “This is a time to stand up for women’s equality, dignity and the right to make personal health decisions. … Attacks are coming from every direction and on every issue we care about, including reproductive rights, health care, equal pay, violence against women, and the list goes on.”

While actions in most states are focused on state capitals, in Illinois women are rallying at Lincoln Park in Chicago, in Detroit at Roosevelt Park and in New York City at the site of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire. Of the 146 people who died in that horrific workplace tragedy, most were young immigrant women, and the rights of immigrant women must still be fought for today.

“We wanted to start at the Triangle site because those women died to help us get our rights,” Teagarden told Workers World. “We want to show that they didn’t die for nothing — that we honor their sacrifice as we fight for the rights of all women today.”

To find the April 28 event in your state, visit unitewomen.org.