Women Empowerment club co-hosts North Hollywood Women’s March, one of hundreds nationwide

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Men, women and children showed their support for reproductive rights by gathering as a group to protest against Texas’ month old abortion law.

By Cassandra Nava, Editor-in-Chief

Amanda Yollin, co-host and Women's March organizer, is seen in grey leading the group of activists with a megaphone in hand while crossing Lankershim Boulevard, at the intersection of Lankershim Boulevard and Chandler Boulevard. Kimberly Perez and Sandra Sanchez, Women Empowerment club members and co-hosts of the event, hold the ends of a banner that reads, "Bans off our bodies #RallyForAbortionJustice." (Annette M. Lesure/The Valley Star)

In its fifth annual event, the Women’s March gathered people from all over the country on Oct. 2, following the aftermath of the Texas abortion law — and just in time for a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department.

Although usually taking place in January, the Women’s March organization arranged a nationwide event in order to explicitly advocate for reproductive rights. With Valley College’s Women Empowerment club as a co-host, over 400 hundred people of all ages showed up in support for residents of Texas, where abortion after six weeks is currently banned. According to the Associated Press, SB 8 not only bans abortion after the six week mark, but allows private citizens to “sue Texas abortion providers who violate it, as well as anyone who assists a woman getting the procedure.”

Many abortion rights activists and organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, also state that the six week mark is too early to detect a pregnancy, being only about two weeks after a person misses their period.

“I think that showing how upset the country is about what's happening in Texas is very very important,” said artist and community member Kristen Gish. “There's not a ton we can do as individuals, but showing up as a group and protesting, it's a step in the right direction.”

With the march beginning at 2 p.m. many San Fernando Valley natives gathered at the hottest point of the day, ready to fight and sweat for their cause. Chants were shouted through megaphones, with protesters screaming ‘My body, my choice,’ ‘Healthcare is a human right,’ and ‘When women are under attack what do we do?,’ where the crowd was prompted to yell back, ‘Stand up fight back!’

The starting point of the march was at Chandler Boulevard and Vineland Avenue. What started out as a small crowd grew with each step taken towards the North Hollywood Recreation Center. Co-host of the event, Metztlie Moreno, stated that the location was chosen due to its familiarity among natives and the potential foot traffic with the surrounding apartments and Metro station.

Though these events usually take place in major U.S. cities, the Valley College Women Empowerment club wanted to bring the action to the San Fernando Valley.

“It's better to have a march that is somewhere near our home and to show that our community cares as well,” stated Women Empowerment club president Sandra Sanchez.

Sanchez, a student at Valley College and current ASU president, started the club in March of this year. Due to budget and timing issues, the club was not able to use Valley’s campus as the final destination of the march, which was the original plan. Instead of organizing the event through the school, Sanchez and the other club members joined with a local Women’s March organizer to maintain the event.

The theme of the march was that of frustration. At one point, Kimberly Perez, vice president of the Women Empowerment club stated, “I think that it is ridiculous that we still have to march for this in 2021.”

Local community member, politician and Valley alumna Angelica Dueñas was in attendance at the march, where she guided protesters to get off the sidewalk and walk in the streets. Screaming, “It’s ok to make them uncomfortable. Our bodies, our streets,” Dueñas encouraged the group to physically take up space.

“Women need to be more empowered to take space and at the end of it all, I wanted to just inspire this group of people,” said Dueñas. “When we are big enough — just look at what we can do. Walking into the street might make people uncomfortable for a couple of minutes, but it's worth it. It gets the people’s attention and it makes a big statement, saying that we are ready to do what we need to do to protect women’s rights.”

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