Berkeley community rallies on International Women’s Day

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Isabella Ko/Staff

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As part of International Women’s Day, campus faculty, students and Berkeley community members gathered by the Campanile and at Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park on Thursday to respond to the “international call” to speak out for women’s rights.

The strike at the Campanile was organized by a coalition of organizations including the UC Student-Workers Union, according to Erin Greer, a campus doctoral candidate in the English department and one of the organizers of the event. Greer said the UC Student-Workers Union hoped to use the event to highlight the overlap between issues of gender, race, ethnicity, immigration status, religion and class.

“It’s a radical call for feminism for the 99 percent rather than a corporate style feminism, which predominantly represents the interest of a middle-class and white demographic,” Greer said.

Diana Ruiz, a UC Berkeley doctoral student in film and media and a member of the UC Student-Workers Union, said she was a part of the movement because of its inclusive approach to women from all parts of the community. She said that the strikes were planned at noon and 4:30 p.m. in order to allow for working women to come on their lunch breaks or after work.

Ruiz also emphasized the importance of the work that the UC Student-Workers Union does to negotiate terms with university administration.

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“We demand protection and sanctuary from violence, which is something that UC administration and militarized police presence at the university have not granted us,” Ruiz said. “We want to contribute to the scholarship of our times under fair working conditions.”

The strike at the Campanile ended with a chant led by Cecilia Palmeiro, an Argentine activist behind the “Ni Una Menos” campaign against gender violence in Latin America.

The rally at MLK Civic Center Park was emceed by Berkeley High School students Anjuli Arreola-Burl and Simone Ewell-Szabo, who encouraged attendants to break up into groups to discuss the “invisible work” that women do, according to Maura McMichael, a press liaison for the event.

Berkeley resident Sarah Hyde said she chose to attend the strike to make the rally about marginalized women.

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“It’s a very cisgender-focused day,” Hyde said. “Of course mainstream feminism is white feminism. So today there’s a lot of white women.  I’m here to make it about other people who are affected by the patriarchy who aren’t normally talked about such as disabled women, trans women, women of color and nonbinary women.”

Many at the rally, including Hyde, echoed the importance of the presence of youth at political rallies and events.

“I think it’s really important because we’re the next people who will be voting, changing the world and inheriting the government and its laws and policies,” said Kyra Teigen, a Berkeley High student and member of BHS Stop Harassing. “Obviously change needs to happen, and it’s important to acknowledge that the #MeToo movement is at high schools, too.”

Contact Isabella Sabri and Mariam Zagub at [email protected].

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