This Saturday, I have the honor to march alongside women from all over Orange County in the Women’s March. Though I have been a part of the labor movement for most of my adult life, I have begun a new chapter, one where the fight for women’s rights is front and center.
Coming off of the 2016 election, I was devastated, as many of us were. I thought to myself, after twenty years organizing, what is in store for us? I was scared of the answers. Then, out of the desire to do something, I joined the thousands of other women who hit the streets last January. We were marching for something positive; women’s rights, pay equity, immigration reform, for our voices to be heard.
Most importantly, being in the streets with countless other allies changed my fear into hope. I saw many women who were marching for the first time, who had finally decided that enough was enough. Certainly, there’s still a lot of work for us to do. And, sure, there’s often something to be angry about. But being out there made me feel hopeful and powerful. It showed me that I’m one of many, this is our time, this is our moment to speak up.
I’m proud to know two of the women featured in TIME’s issue “Silence Breakers”. They came forward as part of the #MeToo movement that is crossing our nation. Juana and Sandra and countless others have found the courage to speak up and demand the harassment stop. But we are naïve to think that women will speak up on their own; we need movements, as all workers do when they fight back, to stand behind them, to listen to them, to empower them, and to hold them up.
Let this year’s march be a celebration of what we as women have accomplished in the last year, and let us redouble our efforts for the coming one.
Ada Briceño, Co-President of UNITE HERE Local 11, a union representing 29,000 hospitality and food-service workers, and Vice President of the General Executive Board of the International Union UNITE HERE, co-founder and board chair of Orange County Communities Organized (OCCORD).
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