By Natalie Olivares
March celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Pecan Shellers’ Strike.
Women of various ages, ethnicities, religions and political backgrounds gathered in a circle Monday evening at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to discuss the agenda of the 23rd annual women’s march Saturday in San Antonio — Women Will March, Mujeres Marcharan — in honor of International Woman’s Day.
International Women’s Day commemorates a labor strike led by female garment and textile workers in 1857. More than 15,000 women marched down streets of New York City demanding shorter working days, better pay and equal rights.
This event marked the birth of the women’s rights movement.
Today more than 45 countries celebrate International Women’s Day with marches, programs, workshops and other events.
The women’s march in San Antonio also commemorates the 70th anniversary of the 1938 Pecan Shellers’ Strike led by Emma Tenayuca.
Tenayuca led more than 10,000 women in a march demanding better working conditions.
Traces of Tenayuca decorate the first floor of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center.
Black-and-white photos of Tenayuca adorn the walls and lean up against the corridors reminding visitors of how far women have come, socially and politically.
Upstairs there were signs that read, “Que Vive la Mujer,” (Long Live the Female) “Stop Child Abuse,” “Stop Police Violence Against Women” and “United Without Borders.”
The march committee is composed of artists, attorneys, students, volunteers and advocates from different organizations, each with an equal voice.
“We gather in solidarity with women across the world to honor those who have struggled before us, to celebrate our collective power, and to educate ourselves and our communities about current challenges,” organizer Amanda Hass said.
According a press release from the organizers, thousands of women are expected to participate.
Once the marchers reach Milam Park, a rally will be held at Plaza del Zacate with guest speakers, artists and performers commemorating the occasion.
Eloisa Tamez, a Lipan Apache, will speak about U.S. borders and terrorism.
“We’re building the wall because we’re worried about terrorists, but on the border we’re being terrorized by our own government,” Tamez said.
Others scheduled to speak include East Side activist Nettie Hinton, high school activist Raven Medina, labor organizer Judy Lerma and Guatemalan artist Regina Jose Galindo.
Also, poet Ria Thompson will share her views.
Kick It!, Azul; Dava Hernandez; and members of the Transfers will provide live music.
In addition to the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, other sponsors include Fuerza Unida, Rape Crisis Center, Planned Parenthood, Martinez St. Women’s Center, PEACE Initiative, University of Texas at San Antonio American and women’s studies programs, and the Our Lady of the Lake Center for Women in Church and Society.
Issues that concern march sponsors include violence toward women, access to health care, workplace and wage discrimination, human trafficking, reproductive rights, effects of war, access to higher education, anti-homosexual legislation and censorship of political speech, according to the press release.
The Monday night meeting discussed ways counter-protesters in areas such as reproductive rights should be treated.
Committee members agreed to politely disarm any marchers holding signs that do not support the ideas of the march.
For those who refuse to discard their signs, a separate area will be available. The exact location is unknown at this time.
“The march supports freedom of speech, and counter-protesters should be allowed to express themselves in a designated area,” attorney Amy Kastely said.
Members have agreed to keep their political opinions to themselves but will not disallow others to march with political signs as long as they do not pose a threat to the safety of the other marchers.
“We are not out to promote our own political agendas but to support the goals and values of democracy,” organizer Amy Casso said.