International Women's Day marked by rally in DTLA

Cihuatl Ce performs feminist rap while people find friends, take photos, and mingle outside City Hall. A man named Alex Shabbot hands out women’s liberation zines below its steps. It is his way of ensuring “liberation not only for our sisters but also for the world.” People in the crowd wear purple berets and carry signs referencing feminist literature and icons. One sign in particular reads ‘The Place of A Woman is in the Struggle.’

“We will unite, we will resist, we will defeat the imperialists!”

In the heart of Downtown Los Angeles this Sunday, this was one of the calls to city officials from those who participated in the International Womyn’s Day March organized by AF3IRM and Ovarian Psycho Cycles.

Ironically, city offices were closed on Sunday, the day International Women’s Day happened to fall on, so city officials were not actually around to hear participants' dissatisfaction with the status quo. However, with news crews there to document the events, and police there to block traffic, the message the crowd of 2,000 intended to send got out to some of those who wield power.

This march was part of an effort to “demand to end the violence against women,” as Mona Navarro of AF3IRM puts it, a violence that is not limited to sexual or physical violence or abuse.

“Majority of women are in poverty. When they’re in poverty they have lower access to healthcare . It seems subtle, it’s not overt, but it’s damaging to womankind,” says Navarro.

AF3IRM is a transnationalist, feminist, anti-imperialist organization which has worked to combat trafficking and militarism through direct action, advocacy, and education for 25 years. What members of the organization like Navarro call “the genocide of womankind” also includes the criminalization of miscarriages in El Salvador, the low wages of fast food and minimum wage workers, the incarceration of largely black and brown youth, and the constant policing of low-income neighborhoods within and outside the states, among other issues.

None of which are prominent in mainstream feminism, much less mainstream media. “With liberal feminism the issues they’re raising, like sex positivism, seems to be the only issue, when really there’s so many issues [that], especially women of color are facing, which white women may not be facing as much,” says Navarro.

This comes before world leaders took a pledge at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women to achieve gender equality by 2030.“A lot of people in our society maybe think that everything is fine , everything is good, that women have as many rights as men, “ says Navarro.

The march and rally started at City Hall and ended at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, stopping at Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters, the Federal Building, and Central Prison along the way. Along the route women spoke on “the different ways in which institutions perpetuate violence against women,” in Navarro’s words, in relation to the location of the march.

Each stop, and speaker, had its significance, be it the general power they wield over the public, as was the case for the city and law enforcement buildings, or their history as a gathering place for marginalized groups, as was the case for La Placita or Mariachi Plaza. Among the speakers were Mayda del Valle of #Raisethewage, Povi Tamu-Bryant of #BlackLivesMatter, Mari Carmen Farfen of Fight for $15, Celine Qussiny, who spoke out against Israel’s treatment of Palestinian women, AF3iRM National Chair Jollene Levid, and author Thandisizwe Chimurenga, who called forth the names of women killed by police in a libation outside LAPD Headquarters.

“We recognize and are critical of our environment and society and are wanting to make change by being organized,” said Navarro.