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Santa Ana rallies for International Women's Day

By Rain Mendoza

Some to the participants in Santa Ana, California International Women's Day event. | Fight Back! News/staff

Santa Ana, CA – “Capitalism has no interest in ending women’s oppression because it benefits from it! We must eradicate gender-based oppression at its source,” declared Rain Mendoza to over 30 attendees at Community Service Organization Orange County’s (CSO OC) first International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 9.

Chants of “When women’s’ rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up fight back!” and “Si tocan a una, respondemos todas!” filled the park as community members and leaders alike gathered around the stage. Speakers addressed their demands for International Women’s Day including reproductive rights, LGBTQ liberation, equal pay for equal work, ending gender violence, and standing in solidarity with the women of Palestine.

Emma Gottfried, member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), spoke on the history of International Women’s Day, explaining how it originally commemorated the labor struggle of garment and needle workers of New York City in 1908. Gottfried also spoke on reactionary attacks on LGBTQ people across the country and in California, explaining that recently defeated bill AB 1314 “would have forcibly required teachers and faculty members to out children to their parents if, while they are in school, they identify with a different gender then they were assigned or engage in activities designed for the opposite sex”. Similar bills have since passed, endangering trans youth. Gottfried ended with a call to action, “We have to fight for systematic change for full LGBTQ liberation!”

Diana Terreros, member of CSO OC spoke of a California law that until 2010 legally allowed forced sterilizations of countless Chicana, African American and other oppressed nationality women. She ended her speech with a demand, “We need comprehensive reproductive rights that include not only the right to abortion but also the right to have children without economic barriers and an end to forced sterilizations.”

Jenny Bekenstein, shop steward and active member of the Teamsters union, bridged the roots of International Women’s Day in the labor struggle to the present. She spoke about the recent UPS contract fight. “Because we posed a credible strike threat, the company gave into almost all of our demands a week before the strike was going to happen.” She explained the significance for women, pointing out “the part-time classification has the most women because they have to take care of their families and take on the household work. We were at minimum wage and we won a 50% wage increase over the next five years.”

Noor Aljawad, member of the US Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), described how islamophobia paints Muslim men to be “barbaric oppressive creatures,” and Muslim women to be “agentless, powerless and oppressed.” She pointed out the hypocrisy stating, “there is fake concern for humanity and liberation of Muslim women that has historically been used to justify killing Muslim people.” Referring to Israel, she asked, “If they care about queer rights and women’s rights, why are they so willing to kill them en masse?”

The event went on with more chants, “When Palestinian women are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!”

Jay Perez recounted heroic stories of women in her personal life defending other women from male violence, statiang, “May we all fight for each other the way my mom fought for a stranger. May we be as fearless and unstoppable as the woman that protected my mom. May we not hesitate to scream and shove and fight back at the forces oppressing us with everything we have!”

The event was organized by CSO OC and included attendees and speakers from USPCN, OC Environmental Justice, Sullivan en Accion, and FRSO.

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