Girls Just Wanna Have Fun[damental Human Rights]

Next year, 2020, marks the centennial since the right to women’s suffrage was ratified in the United States. Although great strides have been made, there is still much to be done toward gender equality.

Main Street’s sidewalks overflowed with passionate marchers chanting for the end of violence against women and other marginalized members in society.

International Women’s Day (IWD)—March 8—is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, and marks a call to action for progressing gender equality. 

The New Paltz IWD march held on Saturday, March 9, was organized and hosted by New Paltz Women in Black—led by founding member Barbara Upton and fellow member Donna Goodman. 

“The idea of an outdoor march with a brass band has been on my mind for a long time. I wanted us to celebrate women and International Women’s Day in a loud and visible fashion, even as we also publicized the problems we are facing,” Goodman said.

The march began at 11 a.m. in front of Elting Memorial Library, where nearly 200 people proceeded to march to Water Street Market and back to the library, accompanied by spirited local musicians.

“When the weather decided to cooperate, we knew we had a good chance of bringing out a good crowd,” Goodman said. “All of us are delighted with the turnout.”

World-renowned feminist, journalist and activist Gloria Steinem once said, “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

Indeed, the collective efforts of a cornucopia of endorsing organizations made this year’s International Women’s Day march in New Paltz so successful. 

Before the march, co-sponsoring organizations—Campaign for New York Health, Concerned Parents New Paltz, Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, Hudson Valley Jewish Voice for Peace and Middle East Crisis Response, Indivisible the Fight is On, Indivisible Ulster, International Socialist Organization (ISO), March On Hudson Valley, Mid-Hudson Valley Amnesty International USA, Mid-Hudson Valley Planned Parenthood, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, NYPIRG, Rondout Valley High School Human Rights Club, Ulster Activists (U-ACT), Ulster Immigration Defense Network and Women Empowered To Lead (SUNY)—were invited to briefly address the crowd. 

People from all different walks of life united for one common cause: to end the violence against women and all vulnerable and marginalized members of our society. 

“Marginalized groups (including women) are manipulated and powerless by the powerful and wealthy, and the powerful and wealthy strive to keep it that way,” said fellow marcher Cristina Marmo. “Since middle school, I have been keenly aware of this—and continue to fight this even in my 60s. I wish I could say that I think things have gotten better but I have my doubts some days.”

At One EPIC Place, following the IWD march from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., Resisterhood: New Paltz hosted “Experience the Power of Women,” a showcase and celebration of art, music, poetry and spoken word by women—for everyone.

“We wanted to not only bring visibility to women’s issues but also to bring people out into the streets where they themselves could be visible, speaking up for what they believe in and agitating for change,” Goodman said. 

“We have to continue to fight back, by learning all we can, educating others, gathering in the streets and meeting halls and schools and houses of worship, and speaking out. And never, ever give up.”