“Anything you can do, I can do bleeding,” “Make America Think Again,” and “Religion doesn’t trump women’s health” were among the painted slogans at the second annual Women’s March this past Saturday. Cheyenne Chontos, the president of Augie FEM club, raised her own glittery red sign declaring “Riots, Not Diets” while walking alongside roughly twenty other Augustana students.
A total of 2,500 people advocated for women’s rights in downtown Sioux Falls, many donning pink “pussy hats” and chanting phrases such as “this is what democracy looks like.”
The crowd walked from Carnegie Town Hall to the Minnehaha Courthouse, stopping for speeches by special speakers, such as Mayor Mike Huether and mayoral candidate Jolene Loetscher, along the way.
“I hope the march sends the message that we are not afraid to use our voices and we are not afraid to stand up for ourselves,” Chontos said. “I hope it sends a message of unity, that there are a lot of us that want to stand together and love each other.”
Last year, the march attracted 3,300 people. Now, one year following both President Trump’s inauguration and the #metoo movement, several protesters said the march took on a slightly different energy.
“There was a lot of energy after the election and we still have that energy, but it’s shifted because now we know what Trump’s capable of and it’s not pretty,” Chontos said. “We have a clear path on what we’re marching for and what we’re marching against.”
Chontos said she was marching in support of accessible women’s health care which she felt was at risk underneath the Trump administration.
Echoing Chontos’ concerns, junior Stacie Soderstrom said that in addition to Planned Parenthood and accessible abortions, she was marching in support of the #metoo movement.
“[The march] becomes more relevant each year, especially with this president,” Soderstrom said. “I, myself, have been sexually assaulted in the past and I think it’s really important we continue to allow women to speak out against the things that have happened to them.”
In addition to issues concerning women, Black Lives Matter, Medicaid expansion, environmental concerns, Puerto Rico recovery efforts and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals were among the issues addressed at the march.
Meanwhile, Augustana women weren’t the only ones marching with Augie FEM club. Several Augustana men walked the route too.
“We hope to see the mobilizing force of women and a lot of men coming out here too, supporting the same cause,” senior Jonas Gjesdal said.
Agreeing with Gjesdal, junior Hatem Khalfaoui said, “Being a man, it’s actually very important to come here to emphasize that this is not only a women’s fight, it’s our fight. Women’s rights are human rights.”