Women march for equality in Bangor

Women march for equality in Bangor

Women and allies gathered in downtown Bangor on Wednesday to celebrate the 95th anniversary of women’s suffrage and to highlight areas of continued economic and political inequality for women.

Participants in the Women’s Equality Day rally and march pointed to reproductive rights, wages and benefits, political representation, discrimination based on gender expression/identity and sexual orientation and violence against women as five areas where state and national leaders can take immediate action to improve the lives of women.

“It’s time to demand that elected leaders stand with Maine women and pass policies that make real progress toward equality.” said Amy Halsted, Associate Director of the Maine People’s Alliance, which helped to organize the rally. “While some conservative members of the Legislature spent an alarming amount of energy this past legislative session trying to find ways to restrict access to abortion, Maine women continued to earn an average 84% of what their male counterparts earn in the workforce. We can pass policies to address inequality in the workplace, and to retain and expand women’s access to reproductive health care, but it will take activists with the tenacity and commitment of those in the original women’s suffrage movement—and elected leaders who will listen.”

State Representative Adam Goode and Bangor City Councilor Gibran Graham stand with activists from the Maine People's Alliance at the rally on Wednesday.

State Representative Adam Goode and Bangor City Councilor Gibran Graham stand with activists from the Maine People’s Alliance at the rally on Wednesday.

“Access to reproductive health care is critical to ensuring women have the ability to gain control over their own lives.” said Andrea Irwin, Executive Director of the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center in Bangor. “This summer’s smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, the nation’s leading provider of reproductive health care, is just the latest in a decades-long assault on reproductive rights orchestrated by those who want to turn back the clock on women’s rights. Rather than shaming women and abortion providers, we should support women in making the best decisions for themselves and their families.”

Women’s Equality Day is a national observation of the anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Movement’s hard-won victory of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting women the right to vote. The long-fought campaign spanned 72 years and succeeded through nonviolent, direct action despite facing virulent opposition that often ended with police brutality and incarceration.

“No one who works full-time should live in poverty, but too often that is the reality for working families today,” said Eliza Townsend, Executive Director of the Maine Women’s Lobby. “We need to raise the minimum wage so those families can meet their basic needs. We need to make sure all workers can earn paid sick days because sometimes we all need time to get well or to care for a sick child. For parents to work, child care needs to be affordable. And we all need access to paid family & medical leave so that we can afford to take care of a new baby or ailing parent. We know the tools that will move women and our families towards prosperity, it’s time to use them.”

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