Students push for legislative change on International Women’s Day

Mq Borocz

Colorado State University Students and members of the Fort Collins community gathered yesterday for International Women’s Day and to participate in A Day without a Woman.

This year, the same organizers for the Women’s March on Washington made International Women’s Day A Day without a Woman, which was meant to highlight the socio-economic importance of women and the discrimination women and gender non-conforming people face. Yesterday, participants campaigned for women’s rights on the CSU plaza and representatives from CSU Democrats and the National Organization for Women spoke.

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One of the ways in which women and their allies were encouraged to participate in A Day without a Woman was to strike.

Kait Casaus, a senior majoring in Human Development and Family Studies said she was on strike in honor of International Women’s day and that she wanted to engage with people about feminism.

“My goal for today is to have productive conversations with people about what feminism means and how we can work to prevent some of the injustices (women face),” Casaus said. “I think in having conversations and being present on campus we can de-stigmatize feminism.”

One of the injustices women face globally is the lack of full reproductive rights, according to supporters of the Global Health, Empowerment and Rights Act, a bill introduced in the United States Senate in January. The Global HER Act seeks to permanently repeal the Mexico City Policy.

This policy, also known as the global gag rule, was first introduced under the Reagan Administration and was reinstated and expanded by President Donald Trump in January. The current policy requires that in order to receive any kind of global health funding from the United States, foreign non-governmental organizations must not perform or promote abortion using funds from any source, including non-U.S. funds.

Haley Rattcliff, a junior Health and Exercise Science major and a member of CSU Democrats said she showed up to show support for the Global HER Act and for women’s rights.

“(This bill) is giving women the right to choose so they have more autonomy over their own bodies, which is really important,” Rattcliff said. “(CSU Democrats) supports all women regardless of other identities. We’re just here to show support.”

According to a Vox article the policy will also likely restrict women’s access to contraception, HIV prevention and treatment services, maternal health care and Zika Virus prevention. When the policy was reinstated under President Bush, studies found that the rates of unsafe and illegal abortions increased abroad.

Students and community members asked people on the Plaza to sign petitions against the policy throughout the week. According to Julia Eddy, organizer for Change Corps in Denver, over 1,000 signatures have been collected so far from the CSU community. They plan to send the petition to Sen. Cory Gardner to show the people’s support for the Global HER Act.

The vice president of the Northern Colorado chapter of the National Organization for Women, Jean Wyrick, also spoke yesterday on the Plaza. The local chapter is still being officially established, but the national organization is the largest official non-profit organization working for women’s rights in the U.S., according to Wyrick.

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Wyrick said that in over 20 countries around the world, which does include the U.S., International Women’s day is recognized as a holiday.

“(In those countries) women are told how strong, wonderful and capable they are, and it’s wonderful,” Wyrick said. “But, more than that, it’s a call to action.”

Wyrick said NOCO NOW will fight for the organization’s six core issues: reproductive justice, ending violence against women, economic justice, LGBTQ rights, racial justice and a constitutional gender equality amendment. She also said that Colorado residents should call Sen. Cory Gardner on a regular basis.

Over 30 people gathered in the Plaza to listen to Wyrick speak and several others remained there throughout the day in honor of International Women’s Day and a Day without a Woman.

Connor Stanley, a previous graduate student of political science at The University of Colorado in Boulder, said he would like to see more men show up to events regarding women’s rights.

“Supporting each other is not gender exclusive,” Stanley said. “I’m here to support (Casaus), I’m here to support my mom, my sister, every strong amazing woman in my life, even if I don’t talk that much today. Today is not my day to talk.”

Eddy Hall is hosting an activist training from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. today in room 382 of the Lory Student Center for those who would like to get more involved in the fight for the rights of women and gender nonconforming people. NOCO NOW is also holding a meeting on March 21 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship.

Collegian reporter MQ Borocz can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @MQBorocz22.