Yorkers rally for women's rights on International Women's Day

Around 25 people gathered downtown at noon.

Junior Gonzalez
  • About 25 people gathered in Continental Square to stand up for women's rights on International Women's Day.
  • Several of the same people attended an anti-Trump protest just a week ago.

Protesters gathered once again in York City’s Continental Square to stand up for women’s rights on International Women’s Day.

The hourlong demonstration started at noon Wednesday and had close to 25 participants with a range of signs, from ones made with markers just before the event to some used at January's Women's March on Washington and signs used in the 1970s by the National Organization for Women.

The rally happened almost happenstance, according to event organizer Jeanne Buckingham.

She said that while chatting with her friend Val Kater on Sunday, Kater asked whether there would be any show of support for International Women’s Day as well as A Day Without a Woman, an event organized by the same group that organized the Women’s March on Washington in January.

Seeing red: ‘Day Without a Woman’ celebrates female power

“We started messaging people from Indivisible York and other friends of ours that night,” she said, not knowing what to expect come midday Wednesday. She said she was pleased with the turnout.

“This is what grassroots organizing looks like,” Buckingham said.

Many of the protesters were wearing red, a request made by the Women's March. The group also called on women to take leave from paid or unpaid work Wednesday as well as avoid spending money, except for women-owned businesses, in order to demonstrate the power of women. Many of those who showed up to the protest, however, were retired.

Anti-Trump protesters gather in Continental Square

'Under attack': “Women’s rights are human rights,” Etters resident Nikki Byer said. “And they’re under attack more so than ever.”

She noted that in spite of all the advancements women have made, there still are many issues that place women at a lower standing than men.

“Women still do not get equal pay. That’s ridiculous,” she said.

Byer said that women's health is under attack by the Trump administration, adding that cuts to Planned Parenthood are cuts to women’s rights.

“If (cuts to health care) involved men, it would be at the top of the agenda,” she said. She said the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could lead to increased costs for women's health care as well as a reduction in services, such as some of the services Planned Parenthood provides.

"We cannot sit still and be silent any longer," she said.

From left, Karen McCraw, of Glen Rock, Courtney Lewis, of Lancaster,  who works in York City, and Shannon McElroy, of York City, rally in solidarity with International Womens Day at Continental Square in York City, Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Byer said she has not forgotten about the president's past statements regarding women.

“We have a president who was seen making obscene remarks about women’s bodies, and we know what he believes in,” she said. “I take him by his word.”

'Challenge stereotypes': There were women and men in attendance, although a group of men stood apart from the main group of women and held their own signs with messages of solidarity, including “challenge stereotypes” and “We call for gender-balanced leadership.”

Local Machinists Union Retiree Action Group President Clark Ruppert said he was in Continental Square to support his “sisters” in the country and around the world to “stand up to the injustices being done to them.”

He said he found out about the demonstration a few days ago and decided to email fellow union retirees to join in. Several joined the rally as the hour went on.

Ruppert said while the machinery profession is “predominantly men,” the union he belonged to stood up for similar causes, including equal pay.

“We’re trying to make a living and do what’s best for our families,” he said. “That shouldn’t matter whether you’re male or female, transgender, whatever. We’re all human beings.”

Reactions: While most drivers and passers-by reacted positively to the demonstration, there were a few moments of pushback. At one point, a driver passed by the demonstrators and yelled, “F*** Planned Parenthood.”

York City resident Delma Welch, who also attended an anti-Trump protest last week, said she heard the remark and had a response for the man.

“When he gets a missed period and gets pregnant, then he can talk to us,” she said.