Women’s Equality Day festival highlights past achievements to inspire future generations

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Klara Salazar, 13, clapped in awe as California Secretary of State Shirley Weber spoke from the stage on Saturday.

“What will you do when your moment comes? Weber asked a crowd gathered at the Joe and Vi Jacobs Center in southeast San Diego. “Where are you going to stand? Who are you going to hang out with? What would you fight for? I tell young people, ‘This is your moment.’ »

Salazar said she felt inspired by the speech to “take action and speak out” against gender inequality. And, she says, she hopes “to see more women in government.”

“Las Soldaderas”, a mannequin honoring the women who traveled with the male soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, is displayed August 27, 2022 in observance of Women’s Equality Day at the Encanto Woman’s Museum.

(Ariana Drehsler / For San Diego Union-Tribune)

Weber’s remarks were among many conversations about gender equality, the importance of voting and civic engagement at the inaugural Women’s Equality Day festival, hosted by the Women’s Museum of California. . Other speakers included Angela Elliott-Santos, President of the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation; San Diego City Council members Marni von Wilpert and Monica Montgomery Steppe; County Supervisor Nora Vargas and former Congresswoman Susan Davis.

The event commemorated the adoption of the U.S. Constitution of 19e amendment, which gave women the right to vote when it was ratified on August 18, 1920. Throughout the festival, many presenters highlighted the efforts of former leaders who fought for gender equality, but pointed out that there was still work to be done.
“The fight becomes even more important for us today because we are stepping back and seeing reproductive rights … being taken away from us,” Elliott-Santos said. “It’s just an honor to have been able to be part of these events where we can talk about it. I think it’s the start of a difference.

Visitors walk past an exhibit at Encanto's Women's Museum on Women's Equality Day.

Visitors walk past an exhibit at Encanto’s Women’s Museum on Women’s Equality Day.

(Ariana Drehsler / For San Diego Union-Tribune)

In June, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that granted constitutional protections to women’s right to abortion. The ruling has since triggered laws in more than a dozen states that restrict access or ban abortions. California has abortion protections in place and will ask voters in November whether to guarantee the right to abortion in the state constitution and the right to birth control under Proposition 1. Opponents of the measure say leaders should instead think about ways to make abortion unnecessary.

The art, presented in various forms throughout the venue, made statements about reproductive rights and the empowerment of women. Among them were two piñatas in the shape of birth control pills and pregnancy tests, works titled “Planned” and “Unplanned.” Attendees also viewed the “Crafting Feminism: Textiles of the Women’s Movement” exhibit, which featured many pieces of clothing from across the decades, including suffragette patches and knitted pink hats that many have started wearing in recent Women’s March events.

Outside the museum were several mannequins as part of “The Mannequin Project”, which transformed simple figures into women who defied gender expectations in their own fields. One of them was dressed as Chavela Vargas, a Costa Rican-Mexican singer who in the 1950s and 1960s redefined male-dominated rancheras, or traditional Mexican music. Another figure wore a long white dress with a gun case to represent Las Soldaderas, the women who accompanied the male soldiers during the Mexican Revolution.
Several artisan vendors and community organizations shared information about their work and offered resources.

Historical signs on display at the Encanto Woman's Museum on Women's Equality Day.

Historical signs on display at the Encanto Woman’s Museum on Women’s Equality Day.

(Ariana Drehsler / For San Diego Union-Tribune)

The non-profit organization Fulfilling Dignity recruited volunteers by having participants write positive messages on paper bags and filling them with sanitary napkins. Some wrote: “You are strong” and “You are worthy of love”. The organization prepares between 350 and 500 bags for homeless people, said Bridget Daffron, co-director of the nonprofit.

The festival, which also featured poetry, traditional dances from various cultures and a Chula Vista High School student choir, is one the museum hopes to hold each year, said Melissa Jones, the museum’s marketing director. .

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