The week prior to the women's march, I had seen the news stations and social media talk about it and heard friends make plans to participate in New York City and Chicago. I thought it was exciting, and I was encouraged that so many people were planning on being civilly involved. When I heard there would be a women's march here in in the city of Valparaiso, I knew I needed to go.
The marches were criticized for having too many views expressed; however, I thought it was wonderful to see people come with their signs that showed whichever issues were most important to them. In the sea of signs addressing immigration, women's rights and environmental issues, there were both pro-life and pro-choice signs. No matter what I believe on the matter, it was great to see both sides marching and being respected at Valparaiso's march.
Besides the variety of signs, there were also a diversity of people, from different genders, ages, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and religious beliefs. It was inspiring for me to march beside such passionate people in solidarity with all of the others marching that day around the world, showing our government officials what we believe and that we will not be silent.
I marched primarily for women’s healthcare rights. I am pro-choice and believe that women should have access to safe abortion procedures. I also believe that birth control and other forms of contraception, like the IUD (intrauterine device), should be covered under insurance or easily accessible to the uninsured and underinsured. Birth control has countless benefits, as it limits unwanted pregnancy and is used to treat other medical conditions.
I marched because I believe that women around the world should have access to this type of preventative care, and that we need to improve how we talk about sexual and reproductive health. We need to teach young adults how to be safe and how to utilize contraceptive options effectively, rather than preaching abstinence, which in reality just doesn’t work.
I realize that there is opposition to this opinion, but this was my main reason for attending the protest. It was the first march that I had ever been to; I usually don’t speak out in such a way. But I marched as a message to our president that I and so many other Americans will stand strong in the fight for what we believe in, and that we will do it without violence and without rioting.
I hope this march and those like it around the world will bring to light so many issues that need to be addressed, and that we can begin to engage in productive conversations with one another, to come together to compromise, and to better understand beliefs outside our own.
I am grateful to those who organized these protests, and I was overjoyed with the positive response from our community on Saturday. This march gave me the drive to keep the conversation going and confidence in knowing that we stand together.